New Governor and Minister Rivers visit HMP Northward
Governor Roper and the Minister for Financial Services and Home Affairs Tara Rivers visited Her Majesty’s Prison Northward on Monday to review the facility and discuss operational issues with the Interim Director, Steven Barrett and his team.
The Governor and the Minister toured the site, including the High Risk Unit, and had the opportunity to discuss the formation of the new Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), which was trained by experts from the UK last week.
Governor Roper also dropped in on one of the training sessions to meet members of the new IMB and trainers from the UK who were in the Cayman Islands to help set up the new corrections monitoring mechanism.
The Governor had previously highlighted the project in his acceptance speech to the Legislative Assembly last Monday.
The training was led by Sue Bird and Deborah White, who have more than 20 years’ experience working with the UK Independent Monitoring Board. They train prospective members and chairpersons of monitoring boards from all over the UK.
The week-long course was tailor made for the Cayman Islands by Sue and Deborah and follows on from the fact-finding visit earlier this year by Dame Anne Owers, UK National Chair of Independent Monitoring Boards and former Chief Inspector of Prisons.
The training, which is being funded by the FCO, took place at the Government Administration Building in George Town and included a series of visits to the prison and detention centres across the Island.
The IMB will monitor the conditions and treatment of those detained in custody in the Cayman Islands. It will seek to ensure that prisoners and detainees are treated humanely and fairly, and that they have access to sufficient purposeful activity. It will also aim to ensure that the programmes and arrangements in place are adequate for the prisoners’ release.
The IMB will function independently of the Government and government agencies and will report concerns to the Deputy Governor, Director of Prisons and the Minister for Financial Services and Home Affairs as appropriate.
Governor Martyn Roper said: “I had a very good visit to the prison yesterday morning and learnt firsthand about the challenges that the staff and prisoners face. I was very grateful that the Minister could accompany me to explain some of the plans the Government has for HMP Northward and other correctional facilities.
"I am delighted that the IMB will soon be able to start work. This is a very important role within our community and I commend the group for coming forward to ensure that prisoners’ rights are upheld and that their treatment and management is fair.”
Minister Rivers commented: “The new monitoring framework will hopefully result in the provision of critical feedback on the performance of the Prison Service as the IMB will be considering a variety of things, including whether the required standard of decency is maintained, if policies and procedures are being followed, the manner in which the facility is operated, and resources and programmes dedicated to the rehabilitation of those in custody.
"The Government continues to invest in prison infrastructure, operations and programmes for offenders to prepare them for release back into society with a goal of reducing re-offending, and creating healthier families and communities. We welcome the establishment of this monitoring framework and I look forward to receiving their reports in the future."