Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 6th 2015 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Thursday, August 6, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Prisons Commissioner Sterling Stewart
yesterday said a clean-up exercise was
needed to rid the Prisons Service of "can-
cerous" rogue elements.
He said administrative action had been
taken against three officers assigned to the
Port-of-Spain prison from where three
inmates escaped on July 24.
Stewart s said so after a number of news-
paper reports that seven prisons officers
faced suspension, with some soon to be
charged by police.
He said while at this stage of the inves-
tigation the means by which destructive
items entered into the prisons were yet to
be determined it was clear they were not
brought in by "ghosts" but by treacherous
individuals working together on this sinister
On July 24, three men---Hassan Atwell,
Allan "Scanny" Martin and Christopher
"Monster" Selby---broke out of the Port-
of-Spain State Prison armed with a gun
and a hand grenade and engaged in a
shootout with police.
Police officer Sherman Maynard died in
a police vehicle during the shootout. Martin
was killed by police that same day while
Atwell s body was found riddled with bul-
lets one day later in east Port-of-Spain.
Selby, who turned himself in to police
two days after the escape, was charged
with Maynard s murder among other
charges. He appeared in court on Monday
facing ten charges, including Maynard s
Stewart, who had been silent since the
prison break, broke his silence in a press
release late yesterday.
He said the administrative action taken
by the Prisons Service was part of a thor-
ough investigation, incorporating all avail-
able intelligence and resources to not only
bring closure but also to address all the
concerns being presented to us.
He added: "At this stage of the inves-
tigation, we are yet to determine the means
by which these destructive items entered
into the prisons. What is manifestly clear,
however, is that they were not brought in
by ghosts but by treacherous individual
working together on this sinister escape
"It has been mandated that the inves-
tigation be done thoroughly, but swiftly,
with a clear message being sent to all that
the nefarious, underhand dealings of neg-
ative elements shall not be tolerated."
Stewart said the recent events had made
it blatantly clear that there were rogue
elements plaguing the prisons system,
"seeking to wreak havoc and bring our
Prisons Service into disrepute."
He said the lives of officers, of fellow
national security officers and of the public
were placed in grave danger.
He added: "We can no longer have con-
fidence in mere human resources. The
time has come for us to have access to
and use of all the technology available to
us and all that can be obtained.
"The Minister of Justice has advised
that measures are being in put in place
for the procurement and implementation
of CCTV systems, full body and hand-
held scanners in the shortest possible
"These we anxiously await as they will
undoubtedly improve our static security
competencies and overall outputs."
Stewart advised the committed and
dedicated officers to be professional at all
times in the performance of their duties
"It is with our dedication, commitment
and perseverance, that we will reclaim
our prisons and bring justice to those who
seek only to destroy and cast a dark shad-
ow over us.
"I want my officers to rest assured that
as your commissioner, I am committed
to work with you for the development of
the service; ensuring your security and
your safety. We will not cower but stride
with heads held high," he added.
He also sought to reassure the public
that the T&T Prisons Service was unwa-
vering in its commitment to the protection
of society. See Stewart's statement on
Commissioner breaks silence:
Prisons need clean-up
Justice Minister Prakash
Ramadhar says prisons
officers have already start-
ed receiving training on
portable scanners which
will be implemented soon.
Ramadhar also said he
had given instructions to the
Commissioner of Prisons to
use his discretion to arm
Ramadhar was speaking
to reporters following the
launch of the Digital Legislative Library by his
ministry, an online resource containing all the
existing laws of T&T.
"The portable scanners are already here and
the training has already started to ensure that it
goes into operation as soon as possible," Ramadhar
He said that was in addition to upgrades to
CCTV s in the Port-of-Spain prison.
Ramadhar said it would be reckless to give addi-
tional information on the equipment but said
everything would be implemented within the two-
month time frame he had given last month.
"If one appreciates the time frame for procure-
ment in the country I think we have done incredibly
well from the time I took responsibility as minister,"
He said although work had been engaged long
before, it was a highly technical thing but was
relieved they were here.
In 2013 Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
promised to acquire jammers and grabbers to deal
with the use of mobile phones by prisoners in
T&T s jails.
Ramadhar said part of the shipment of jammers
and grabbers was already in the country.
"It is regrettable that in the past it had not been
seen as a higher priority in former administrations.
We saw it as a need but we do things by proper
"We need to fix the process and make it more
efficient which we have done with the creation
of the Crime and Justice Committee within the
He said the committee brought all the stake-
holders together so that decisions could be taken
"It has worked well for us that is why we have
been able to constrict the timelines for procurement
and delivery," he added. See Page A6
receiving training in
Yesterday, president of the Prison Officers
Association, Cerron Richards, in a telephone
interview said he was unaware that officers had
already begun training.
"We hope it's true. I'm not aware. I have been
hearing talk recently. I have not seen any
scanners or grabbers."
In response to Ramadhar's instructions to arm
officers, Richards said that was nothing new.
"The Commissioner of Prisons has the power
to arm officers. That is ongoing. We have asked
for it to be accelerated for more officers.
"The association found there was tardiness in
the approach to arming officers. They are the
administrators," he added.
Nurses from the T&T Nurses Association demonstrate through the corridors of the Port-of-Spain General Hospital, Port-of-Spain,
yesterday. See Page A5
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