Juvenile detention centres not being used
At least two police lock-ups which were retrofitted to house juveniles are laying idle. Both the Nain jail in St Elizabeth and the Moneague lock-up in St Ann are not being used.
Our news team was told that officers at the Nain station had to mop the station floor whenever it rains heavily and that ventilation is a major issue at that facility.
According to a senior officer who asked not to be named, children are being housed at the New Market and Pedro Plains lock-ups in St Elizabeth.
"We try to get them remanded as quickly as possible to a place of safety," the officer told THE WEEKEND STAR.
The news team was also told that children in St Ann are being housed at the Alexandria police station, which was not retrofitted.
Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison, when contacted by THE WEEKEND STAR, said she not aware of the state of affairs at Nain and would look into the matter.
“I would have to check on that one (Nain) precisely, but what I can tell you is that my office did some investigation in St Ann and we visited the child renovated police station in Moneague and discovered, just like you are saying now, that it was not in fact being used by police to house children even though it has been retrofitted, and even though it has been completed for some time now.”
Gordon Harrison said she has made representation to both the commissioner of police and the state minister of national security, who has responsibility for juvenile facilities.
"I pointed out to them that if you have child specific facilities which are more appropriate and consistent with minimum standards that we need to be observing, if we are going to be treating them in a humane way, we needed to have both the policy position from the minister’s perspective and the operational perspective from office of the commissioner of the police give the directive that the facilities need to be used by the police in the relevant divisions,” she said.
Retrofitting and refurbishing of the juvenile-only sections of the stations was in keeping with efforts to make them compatible with the internationally accepted standards under which juveniles are housed.
More than $75 million was spent on these facilities. The other juvenile-only facilities constructed are in Barrett Town (St James), Bridgeport (St Catherine) and Four Paths in Clarendon.