Despite a contrary statement by the justice minister Philip La Corbiniere, Police Welfare Association President
Rubinia Joseph insists the conditions at Custody Suites are inhumane.
For his part, the minister seemed less concerned with the meat of the complaint when he spoke last Monday to HTS. “The police are supposed to be a disciplined body and officers are expected to lend themselves to a higher discipline,” he told a reporter. “We have a process. The association has access to the ministry, has access to the minister.”
As if referring to someone other than himself, a defensive La Corbiniere went on: “The minister has always said he is prepared on these occasions, once he is seized [sic] of the information, to have frank and open dialogue with the police.”
La Corbiniere complained of “a constant sense” that the Police Welfare Association goes to the media and not his ministry “and one has to ask why.”
Joseph offered a different perspective: “Whenever you hear the association publicly complaining, bet your bottom dollar the employer has been previously informed. I can tell you that most of the association’s problems have existed for years.”
Referring to the infamous Custody Suites, the PWA president said: “That place has been bad for quite some time. It got worse after Hurricane Tomas, when a wall collapsed. The facility’s toilets and septic tanks were also affected. In 2011 the government promised to address the matter. The minister did visit two years ago but was the problem ever addressed? In fact it’s been allowed to grow much worse.”
She added: “We believe the problems at Custody Suites have never been a priority.”
Last Friday the PWA met with La Corbiniere to discuss Custody Suites and other outstanding matters. Joseph confirmed that all grievances were placed on the table, including the working conditions of police officers.
“We also want the place to be more secure and that recommendations of the health and safety departments be implemented with urgency,” said Joseph.
Then there’s the “long outstanding matter of free medicals that the government agreed to provide for police officers.”
Said Joseph: “Police officers who have to seek medical attention must first pay with their own money and then file for a refund. This can sometimes take years, with documents either getting misplaced or lost. This cannot go on.”