Dismissing certain officers could compromise security -Gajraj
Stabroek News
October 20, 2002

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The government cannot dismiss certain officers whose removal was recommended in the report into the Mash day jail-break because their absence could compromise security.

The Kennard report, as it is now known, recommended among other measures to improve the security of the Camp Street Prison that a number of officers be removed from their present posts, another should be fired and two others be sent off on early retirement. It was also recommended that one Cadet Officer should not be considered for promotion for the next five years.

Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj told reporters on Friday at a press conference at the GTV 11 studios that some sanctions had been imposed, but stressed the difficulty of replacing officers who possess knowledge, experience and training.

As such he said that the termination of the services of some of the officers might not be at this time in the best interest of the Prisons Service and the security of the nation. "You have to appreciate that a board of inquiry makes recommendations and at the end of the day it is for the administration to accept the recommendations hook, line and sinker or with such modifications that might be considered necessary in order to give efficacy to the recommendations and findings of the inquiry but at the same time bearing in mind the overarching responsibility of the administration in respect of security and the safety and well being of the community at large".

Gajraj in his opening statement pinpointed the prison break by five dangerous prisoners as the genesis of the current wave of criminal activities.

During the escape, one prison officer was killed and another seriously injured. Four of the five escapees - Troy Dick, Dale Moore, Shawn Brown and Mark Fraser are still at large. The fifth, Andrew Douglas, was found dead.

Gajraj said that the escapees with other criminals including deportees are involved in the present wave of criminal activity, which has generated a deep sense of fear and anxiety in the society.

He explained that the recommendations of the Kennard report were juxtaposed with those put forward by the Willems Report on an earlier escape from the Camp Street jail "and so far as is reasonably practicable we have implemented the recommendations that came out of the 2002 inquiry (the Kennard Report)."

Director of Prisons, Dale Erskine and Chief Fire Officer, Carlyle Washington were also present on Friday at the press conference.