Press conference hosted by Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Wilfred Abrahams re: the Government Industrial School. (PMO)

Government has ordered departmental inquiries into the operations of the Government Industrial Schools at Barrows, St. Lucy and Dodds, St. Philip and the Dodds Prison.

Over the next six weeks, wards and staff of the GIS at Barrows, St. Lucy and Dodds, St. Philip, and former wards and former staff, will have an opportunity to lay complaints and highlight concerns that they may have with the institution.

Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Wilfred Abrahams, outlined this among measures which Government would be taking going forward regarding the management of the juvenile and adult penal institutions, during a virtual press conference. He was joined by Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Kirk Humphrey.

This action follows attempts by young ladies to abscond from the institution, with two successfully doing so, which Minister Abrahams said raised a number of issues that required immediate attention and could not be ignored.

That inquiry, which will be chaired by retired Deputy Police Commissioner, Oral Williams, and expected to be concluded by June 15, will address matters relating to the policies, practices, curriculum, extracurricular activities and mentorship at the institutions.

Mr. Abrahams gave the assurance that the investigation would involve all those who were identified as being culpable and whose names were mentioned. In addition, a telephone line and email address would be created and circulated to the public to allow previous wards of the institution, parents of previous wards, previous staff or anyone with information to make their statements.

“…Nothing is going to be swept under the carpet in this investigation. Based on the findings and recommendations, actions are going to be taken. … We are going to leave no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of all of the allegations so that when we are finished, we will be able to report fully to Barbados, the parents of the young ladies and the young ladies themselves,” Mr. Abrahams pointed out, noting action would be taken against those in breach and others exonerated.

Meanwhile, a separate inquiry will also be undertaken at Dodds Prison, under the chairmanship of Attorney-at-law, Philip Pilgrim, QC,. It is expected to span a three-month period.

That inquiry will investigate concerns raised about the recruitment and promotion process of staff; the treatment of staff; staff accommodation; the medical care of inmates; and the protection of inmates while in transit to court or clinics, and protection of inmates.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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