Commencing at 6 pm on Friday, May 19 2019, sixty five (65) prisoners from two residential wings at Her Majesty’s Prison in Grand Turk, refused to leave the communal areas and return to their cells. They then repeated this refusal to return to their cells on the following two nights. Despite their lack of cooperation, all prisoners continued to have access to meals and their basic human needs.
Even with sustained negotiation, some inmates chose not to return to their cells. As a result, a police team of highly trained police officers, supported by the prison staff, skillfully implemented an intervention on the morning of Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Within 10 minutes, all prisoners were secured and located within their cells. Two (2) very disruptive prisoners were removed and secured in a different location with the prison, and remain segregated from the main population. This was an outstanding joint operation between the Police and the Prison. They demonstrated bravery, resilience and strength of character to enter an area with thirty one (31) prisoners, some of whom have been convicted of very serious offences.
Once control of the wing had been achieved, searches of all cells and the general areas were conducted. Several prohibited items including marijuana, home-made weapons, mobile phones and a sim card was recovered.
Grahame Hawkings, the Prison Superintendent, said; “There are clear challenges working within a prison, but order must be managed. In this case, a small number of people sought to try and influence how the prisoners should have access to facilities and sought to deny prison officers access to their area. I am proud of the prison and police teams for their hard work in bringing this challenging situation to a close. The prison is almost back to normal, and we are grateful for the support of many people.”
Hon. Goldray Ewing, Minister with responsibility for Prison Services in his comments stated: “I am proud of the men and women who performed their duties well, and with a high degree of professionalism and skill. No doubt, their service, including those who went beyond the call of duty to restore order to ensure the safety of inmates, their fellow colleagues and the community at large, is nothing less than commendable. Gross disorderly conduct in our correctional institutions is not something that we accept and in this regard I value the very abled stewardship of Superintendent Hawkings and his team, the Police and all those who worked collectively to bring this situation to a swift, uneventful and peaceful conclusion.”