|Security initiatives to be strengthened at Simpson Penn Centre|
|Saturday, 18 August 2012 08:11|
NASSAU, The Bahamas --- The Government of The Bahamas is committed to providing the resources to facilitate the short and long-term measures required to restore “good order and security” to the Simpson Penn Centre for Boys, Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie S. Griffin said.
The Minister’s announcement comes in the wake of the absconding of several male residents of the Simpson Penn Centre and two disturbances at the Willie Mae Pratt Centre.
Mrs. Griffin said lapses in security initiatives at the Simpson Penn Centre for Boys and the Willie Mae Pratt Centre for Girls led to the recent “abscondments” from the boys’ centre and the multiple disturbances at the girls’ centre.
Steps are being undertaken to improve security at both facilities, Mrs. Griffin said.
“Since assuming responsibility for the centres, I have become more acutely aware of the critical issues at both facilities which require urgent attention if the rehabilitative role of these institutions is to achieve any measure of success,” Mrs. Griffin said.
“Notably, lapses in security initiatives have led to increased abscondments at both centres and steps continue, to improve the security at both facilities.”The first incident took place on Sunday, August 12, at the Simpson Penn Centre when seven senior residents (boys over the age of 16) left the compound without permission.
The following night, a number of residents of the Willie Mae Pratt Centre were involved in multiple disturbances between the hours of Monday night (August 13) and early Tuesday morning (August 14). Police officials, along with staff members assisted in diffusing the situation.
Mrs. Griffin said several measures have already been undertaken to improve security at the facility and to “bring relief to some of the deplorable conditions” that exist, particularly at the Simpson Penn Centre.
“These include the repair and replacement of light fixtures in the dormitories which I have been assured are tamper resistant; the replacement of water closets in the bathrooms of the cottages and the clearing of overgrown bush,” Minister Griffin said.
Mrs. Griffin said resources will be allocated to improve conditions for residents and staff of the two facilities and establish programmes “which are so vital to the personal development and rehabilitation of residents.”
Minister Griffin said the “physical condition” at the Willie Mae Pratt Centre for Girls is not as critical as that of the Simpson Penn Centre, but that there are some matters that need to be addressed at the girls’ facility.
Minister Griffin said workers have almost completed clearing the overgrown property at the back of the Willie Mae Pratt Centre. Additional work, she said, “has been prioritised for action.”
“We are committed to the long-term development of the centres in line with the provisions of the Child Protection Act, 2007, to meet the demands of our ever-changing society,” Mrs. Griffin added.
“More work remains to be done,” Mrs. Griffin continued, “(but) this is being addressed by my Ministry in consultation with the Ministry of Works and Urban Development.”
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