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Re-evaluate your position

Published: 
Saturday, December 16, 2017
Dillon tells prison officers seeking asylum in Canada:
Edmond Dillon

Re-evaluate your stance in the interest of security and public safety.

National Security Minister Edmund Dillon yesterday gave these words of caution to prison officers who want to seek asylum in Canada.

He did so responding to Opposition questions in Parliament. This followed reports that some prison officers recently visited the Canadian Embassy seeking asylum.

On November 2, Dillon said, approximately 25 officers formed a contingent which visited that Embassy seeking information concerning procedure on how to seek asylum in Canada.

The Prison Officers’ Association, in media reports, said the move was sparked by Government’s inaction over requests for law to deal with attacks against officers. This followed murders of two officers in October.

Dillon said his ministry was mindful of concerns of prison officers and other law enforcement officers,”and remains committed to treating with their safety and security.

He added: “While measures to treat with concerns are being explored, the prison officers who formed this contingent are being cautioned to re-evaluate their stance and consider the strain on criminal justice system agencies and the threats to public safety which may occur, should they follow through with their vocalised intent,”

“Any application for leave of absence or request to terminate employment services must go through standard human resources channels. If and when approvals are granted, officers will then be unrestricted in determination of their next course of action,”

In the event, actions of some officers may seem to lead to possible shortage of staff, he said, T&T’s Prison Service has a number of short term workforce planning strategies.

These involved retraining existing staff, task-shifting and redeployment.

Measures included:

•Approval for officers to work extra hours.

•Sanctioning that officers take up extra duties.

•Authorising a temporary reduction in the number allowed to go on vacation leave.

•Augmenting staff with officers resuming duties after leave, placing them in areas where demand is high.

The service admitted 284 male and female recruits in September and will complete another exercise to short-list candidates (male officers and drivers) in early 2018.

Dillon added that discussions are continuing between the Commissioner of Prisons and Police Commissioner on a request for protection for prison officials.

He said this was made on November 7 at a meeting between the National Security Ministry, Attorney General’s office and Commissioner of Prisons and Prison Officers’ Association.

The Prisons’ Commissioner was advised to engage the Police Commissioner concerning those officers whose lives were deemed to be under threat.