As the Guyana Prison Service (GPS) collaborates with the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to clamp down on smuggling of contraband into the various penitentiaries, five prison officers who are suspected to be in collusion with the criminals were relieved of their duties.
This is according to Prison Director, Gladwin Samuels on Friday during an interview with media operatives.
He explained that the five prison officers were fingered in the May 1, 2018 incident where a parcel containing cannabis was thrown into the Lusignan Prison Holding Bay area.
“…We also have five officers who have been interdicted from duty following the May 1 matter at the Holding Bay where our CCTV footage would have revealed that a number of what is suspected to be contraband items were thrown into the Holding Bay facility… Based on the reviews we would have conducted, it is clear that the officers were working in collusion with each other in order to facilitate the movement of the suspected contraband into the prison,” he explained.
Samuels further disclosed that legal advice has been sought from the Director of Public Prosecutions on the way forward.
“I am advised that the police have sent for legal advice but they have not received such yet. Hopefully this will be soon and I trust that the necessary actions will be taken against these officers so that the message which we have been trying to send all the years, will be clear, that persons who are bent or are involved in such practices will not be condoned,” he said.
Nevertheless, the Prison Director asserted that the upsurges in these incidents are not as a result of poor management.
“It is quite disturbing, it is quite embarrassing to have to face these situations on a daily basis but this is not a situation where by the prison administration is failing to act. The reality of it is, despite we would do vetting and so forth, these prison officers are drawn from communities…and from some strange reason, despite they’re given their dos and don’ts, they allow themselves to be sucked into the financial gains that these activities can bring you,” he said.
Meanwhile, he noted that while CCTV cameras are available around the facilities, additional security measures will soon be reinforced.
“We are putting additional security measures in place…Our 2018 budget is catering for improvement of our CCTV systems. The system we have at the holding bay…is quite modern…We just got the approval for the spending of the 2018 allocations so within a matter of weeks, the contractor will be on the ground to enhance the CCTV coverage at the Holding bay. We will also be enhancing the New Amsterdam prison and the Mazaruni Prison which has become somewhat out dated- will be fully overhauled,” he posited.
Ever since the July 9, 2017 Camp Street prison fire, which resulted in prisoners being transported to the correctional institutions countrywide, the smuggling and attempted smuggling of contraband have become prevalent.
Most recently, police stated that they are hunting for a civilian who attempted to smuggle a large quantity of narcotics, tobacco leaves, mobile phones and other contraband into the Lusignan Prison.
It was observed that the suspect was in the process of throwing a black, wrapped plastic parcel over the fence. As such, the ranks discharged rounds at the individual, who in turn fled the scene.
A few days later another similar incident occurred at the New Amsterdam Prison where at least 25 packets of cigerattes were found along with four mobile phone and quantity of cannabis. (Ramona Luthi)