Monday 22nd September, 2008

 

Protective services hope for fair share

 
 
 
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BY CAMILLE CLARKE

With goodies promised to everyone in the budget being presented today, the various arms of the Ministry of National Security are hoping they will get their share.

Finance Minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira is expected to deliver her maiden budget presentation in the House of Representatives from 2 pm today.

The Guardian will provide extensive coverage of the budget presentation in tomorrow’s newspaper.

The Prisons, Police, and Fire services have continually called for financial assistance to deal with ongoing problems, and they are hoping that their calls will be answered by Nunez-Tesheira:

Police

Acting secretary of the Police Service Association Social and Welfare Division, John Fredericks, said patrols of the country’s shoreline were necessary to curb crime.

“If we can get the Marine Branch back in operation, it will be excellent,” Fredericks said.

He said there was a manpower shortage in the service and technological aids were necessary.

“Cameras are needed in every major town for eyes on the streets,” Fredericks said.

He said another major problem for law enforcement officers was the length of time — months to a year — they had to wait to get overtime payments.

“It needs to be streamlined so the officers receive overtime every three to four months,” Fredericks said.

“The association also hopes the training for police officers will continue so the service will be brought up to strength.”

Prisons

Secretary general of the Prisons Officers Association, Burton Hill, said, “Every year we live in hope.”

He said Tobago was in need of a prison.

“The present prison is the worst case... There are remanded and convicted prisoners in the same cell,” Hill said.

He said it was not good to have the different classifications of prisoners mixing together.

“For proper rehabilitation, the prisoners should be better facilitated in their own community,” he said.

In addition, Hill said, two boats were needed to ensure efficient transportation to and from Carrera Island.

“A supply and a passenger vessel are needed for the island,” he said.

Hill also said a refurbishment of the various prisons was necessary.

“There is a need for a proper infirmary at the Maximum Security prison... It increases public safety at the prison and it needs to be upgraded,” he said.

The Youth Training Centre and the Remand Yard were also mentioned for refurbishment.

Hill also mentioned staff, vehicles, training for officers, and a freeze on the promotion of several staff members.

“Another problem is the payment for a 40-hour work week by prisons officer... There is need for better wages for the work we are asked to do to rehabilitate offenders,” he said.

Fire

Fire officers also believe they are getting the worst end of the stick, with several fire stations suffering from a shortage of manpower and appliances.

Morvant and Woodbrook fire stations are currently operating without a fire appliance and fire officers complain that they are forced to use outdated equipment at fire scenes. Several fire stations are in a dilapidated condition.

Senior officers said a number of women had recently joined the service which required a drastic transformation of the facilities to properly accommodate them.

The officers also said promotion was another issue.

They said the last time any promotions were made was two years ago.

They said the issue had affected the morale of hundreds of officers across the country.

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