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Prison officers train in UK

Twelve staff members with Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service will travel to the United Kingdom over the next three months for training geared towards improving the skills of correctional staff in Overseas Territories.

On Aug. 19 two officers travelled to the U.K. to participate in the Middle Management Intensive Development Programme with the United Kingdom Prison Service. Caymanian supervisors Troy David and Derron Watson were selected by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UKPS to attend the training session.

Steve Miller, Nigel Gordon, Neil Lavis, Cherine Usherwood, Shawn Bazil and O’meil Smith

The programme will include classroom instruction at the Newbold Revel UKPS Training College, and then on-the-job training in prisons around the country. The prisons will range in size from a few hundred prisoners to thousands, from low risk categories to the highest risk prisoners in the country.

Next month, five additional officers will attend the First Line Manager’s Intensive Development Programme at the same training facility. Officers Steve Miller, Shawn Bazil, Cherine Usherwood, O’meil Smith and Nigel Gordon will attend the three-week course, learn basic leadership skills and receive exposure to best practices in the U.K. Prison Service.

In addition to development opportunities for officers, the HMCIPS clinical team, Forensic Psychologist Nina Welsh and Correctional Counsellor Rachel Whitlock, will attend training on gang violence to train staff on managing gang dynamics in the prison as well as offer specific services to prisoners identified as gang members.

“This is particularly critical for the Prison Service,” said director Neil Lavis. “With just one male facility, prisoners affiliated with rival gangs are often housed together, creating security and safety challenges. Interventions that encourage gang members to live peacefully inside and outside prison have been demonstrated to improve relationships and reduce violence.”

The FCO is also sponsoring three staff members to attend a course designed to improve how mentally ill prisoners are managed in the prison setting.

“This subject is also particularly relevant for the Island, as there is not yet a mental health facility and many persons who are mentally ill end up incarcerated,” psychologist Nina Welsh explained.

Correctional counsellor Alfred McLeod, supervisor Courtney Waugh and officer Paul Bonner were selected to attend based on their interaction with mental health clients within the Prison Service.

The two-week training will take place at the end of September at the U.K. training college, followed by secondment to prisons that have robust mental health programmes.

Director Lavis said he is keen to take advantage of every opportunity offered to the Prison Service.

“Every training course, workshop and conference put on for development purposes is a tool we can use to advance our service,” he remarked. “Equipping staff to improve the processes and systems currently in place is critical. We are also extremely grateful to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the UK Prison Service for their foresight and commitment of resources to assist correctional services in the region.”

Minister for Home Affairs Tara Rivers said: “I would like to congratulate the staff members who submitted applications and were selected. Commitment by the HMCIPS to professional development and to the success of the Prison Service is key. I look forward to hearing about the knowledge and experience that they will acquire, and will in turn share with their colleagues, as we continue the process of improvements in the Prison Service.”

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