Press conference with Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams at HMP Dodds. (PMO)

Only staff whose roles require them to be physically present at Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds will be required to report for duty at the St. Philip facility.

Those who job functions can be done remotely will be allowed to do so, as the penal institution continues to make strides in overcoming an outbreak of COVID-19 within its walls.

Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, made this announcement in response to questions from the media, following a press conference at the prison last evening0 to give an update on its COVID-19 situation.

The Minister said he spoke with President of the National Union of Public Workers, Akanni McDowall, and it was agreed that those workers who were not essential for it to operate did not have to come to the compound.

Such categories of persons, he outlined, would include human resource and payroll personnel, whose functions can be performed remotely.

However, he noted that there were some who performed job functions, such as those who worked in the control room, that physically had to be present.

“For those who perform that essential service, they will be expected to come in, but anybody else that can perform their function off site will be allowed to do so and will be accommodated in doing so,” he said.

Mr. Abrahams gave the assurance that the Ministry was prepared to work with staff, their representatives and counsel to negotiate the best arrangement possible to meet the needs of all, while ensuring the safety and integrity of the prison.

Meanwhile, Superintendent of Prisons, Lieutenant Colonel John Nurse, indicated that there was no adverse effect from the absence of civil staff at the prison.

He explained that from the initial lockdown, due to COVID-19 in Barbados in March, the prison exercised certain protocols which saw the civilian staff operating virtually. Those protocols, he said, were “stood up again”.

However, he stressed that staff who were required to be physically present did not have to interact with prisoners or prison officers.  

“It is more to do with ensuring that the equipment is functional ….  Our focus is to get the institution back up and running as normal,” he said.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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