(CMR) The Cayman Islands Government has agreed to a request from the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) for the temporary transfer of two convicted male prisoners. They arrived today (Thursday 26th November 2020). All costs will be borne by the TCI Government.
The prison estate in Grand Turk experienced significant damage during hurricanes Irma and Maria in late 2017 which was exacerbated by a subsequent fire to the high-security wing that resulted in the demolition of that accommodation. The rebuilding work has started but is in its early stages.
Since 2017, TCI has experienced a rise in serious crime which has driven an increase in the number of prisoners in custody, placing additional pressures on the staff to maintain safety, security and good order. The transfer of the two prisoners to Grand Cayman is one of a range of steps being taken by the TCI Government to help sustain safety. The prisoners will be held at HMP Northward until the security situation at the Prison in Grand Turk enables their return. They are not the category of prisoners who would warrant transfer to a UK prison.
The handover of the prisoners from TCI Prison Service staff to officers of Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service (HMCIPS) took place at Owen Roberts International Airport. The prisoners will be managed in accordance with the COVID-19 precautionary arrangements at HMP Northward and will remain in isolation pending negative test results after 14 days in quarantine. In addition to COVID-19 protocols, the necessary security measures will be in place at HMCIPS to ensure the safety of the two prisoners as well as the community at large.
Outlining the background to the request from the TCI Government and the agreement by the Cayman Islands Government to consent to that request, His Excellency The Governor, Mr Martyn Roper said: “I am pleased that the Cayman Islands, because of the quality of our Prison Service, has been able to step in and support a fellow Overseas Territory grappling with a difficult set of circumstances.”
UK Ministers approved of this transfer, permissible under UK legislation, and under the circumstances, the Premier was also content for Cayman to offer support.
Speaking of the capacity of HMCIPS to manage the prisoners from TCI, Director of Prisons Steve Barrett said: “I was very open to providing support to one of our sister prison services given the pressures that they are under. The prisoners we received will be subject to a period of assessment and the outcome of that will determine how we manage them going forward.”