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'Royal Gaol and Carrera should close'

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

THE ROYAL GAOL in Port of Spain and the Carrera Island Prison should both be shut down and replaced with a new prison built on available land at Woodford Lodge in Chaguanas, newly appointed National Security Minister Jack Warner has said.

"We shall recommend to the Cabinet that the Royal Gaol should be closed and should be removed from Port of Spain where it has been too long and the Royal Gaol shall now be relocated somewhere in Central in the Woodford Lodge area where there is a lot of land and therefore we should use that land to ensure a better prison service and close down Carrera and close down the Royal Gaol as such," Warner said yesterday.

Warner made the statement yesterday after he held a meeting with the heads of all arms of the National Security Ministry.

The meeting which started at 2 p.m. at the National Security headquarters at Temple Court lasted just over three and a half hours but was "inconclusive" and is scheduled to resume next Tuesday.

Warner's "draft crime plan" and the issue of 21st Century Policing will be discussed in next week's meeting.

Yesterday was Warner's first day on the job as National Security Minister after officially taking over the reins from Brigadier John Sandy.

Warner described it as the "beginning of a good era".

One of the issues addressed in the meeting was the staff shortage in the various agencies, Warner said.

"We cannot operate at optimum levels with these shortages," Warner said.

The National Security Ministry will be embarking on an aggressive marketing strategy to attract recruits to the various agencies to fill the staff shortages, Warner said.

He yesterday lamented the deteriorating infrastructure of the Police Training Academy in St James and said other academies will be opened in "deep south", Central and Tobago to ensure a greater intake of recruits.

The St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies will also be utilised during the July/August break to assist in the training of recruits, Warner said.

The Special Reserve Police force will also be used as an internship to assist in the recruitment of police officers.

Cabinet will also be approached for a, increase in the mandatory retirement age in the Police Service and Defence Force, Warner said.

In an attempt to address the staff shortage in the Police Service and the lack of visibility in "hot spot" areas Warner said fire fighters as well as guards from the state-owned National Maintenance Training and Security Co Ltd (MTS) and prison officers will join police officers and officers from the Defence Force in the fight against crime.

Warner said over the past few years the National Security Ministry has received the "biggest slice of the budget" and he intended to use the funds wisely to fulfil his dreams of a safer society.

"This country is too lawless and we have to change that," Warner said.

Warner said the National Security Ministry will embark on weekly press conferences to update the country on its efforts.

The press conferences will eventually be held monthly when the crime situation improves, Warner said.

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