There is no unrest at HMP Dodds Prisons, and the situation there remains “fluid, but under complete control”.
Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, reiterated this point as he joined a team led Prime Minister to provide the country with an update on Barbados’ COVID-19 situation and HMP Dodds Prisons.
“There is no unrest at the prison. The situation at the prison is under control [and] there have been no reported incidents at the prison that should cause concern to anyone. I just want to make that very, very clear…. The situation at the prison, and the integrity of the security of Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds is entirely under control,” Mr. Abrahams stated.
The Minister noted that with the prison’s top five officers either in quarantine or isolation, the operational control of the facility was being maintained through Major Cedric Proverbs of the Barbados Defence Force, who was seconded to the position of Assistant Superintendent of Prisons.
“So, security operations continue at the prison with a combined effort of prison staff members and Defence Force, members of the Royal Barbados Police Force,” he said.
However, he gave the assurance that soldiers and police officers were not going into the prison, or coming into direct contact with prisoners, as they were doing perimeter patrols, while prison officers continued to carry out their usual duties.
He added that there was also a Rapid Response Force on standby, in the event of an emergency.
In giving his update, Mr. Abrahams told the country that all members of staff at the St. Philip facility and the entire inmate population were tested and those results continue to be processed.
The Minister stated that there were currently 49 members of staff, and 121 inmates who tested positive for COVID-19, and the lockdown was a mitigation against the COVID-19 spread.
“The process of separating positive and negative persons continues, as well as the continued care and treatment of all individuals,” he said.
However, he admitted that it was not an ideal situation and only essential services were being provided at this time.
Those services include ensuring that there was an adequate supply of food for prisoners from the School Meals Department and staff, with meals prepared at the BDF.
In addition, the facility’s laundry is being maintained with more frequent washing being conducted, and there is the treatment and medicating of inmates and staff, where necessary.
Mr. Abrahams further noted that the present policy of “no one in or out”, also resulted in prison officers being housed at the prison in tents constructed, rather than leaving after their shifts.
“We are doing the best we can in these situations. It is not comfortable living, but this is not a comfortable situation. We are doing the best that we can to maintain some degree of normalcy at the prison,” he stressed.