Three More Wards Abscond from the BTC

Entrance to BTC

Three wards from the Boys Training Centre (BTC) absconded Wednesday.

Four wards absconded from the facility last month, however, two have since returned. This means that presently five wards are out of the facility without authorization.

The situation has forced the Government of Saint Lucia to pay closer attention to security at the Centre, something the minister responsible for the BTC noted at a press conference recently.

“I know certain steps have been taken towards that (improving security at the facility). They’re talking about bringing in a private security firm but the Centre is run by the public service and you just can’t fire a public service security and bring in Guardsman or G4S. It’s not done so,” someone close to the situation at the BTC told THE VOICE yesterday.

“The Ministry has been in discussion and consultation with private security firms… hopefully a stronger security presence would be (in place). The Ministry on its own doesn’t have the capacity to round them (wards) up personally but the Ministry continues to work with law enforcement and continues to appeal to the citizenry… people (who) may know where they are… they may have family and there may be people who are harbouring them or that they are staying by,” the spokesperson said.

“If you know where one (ward) is you could call the police (and) the police can bring that boy in… or they (wards) can walk in on their own because life at the Centre is not so horrible you know,” the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson further noted that the BTC is not a maximum-security prison, a point the Ministry has stressed on over the past month.

“It’s a holding facility for juvenile boys. The Centre continues to seek rehabilitation (for) those boys. The focus seems to be on incarceration but that’s not the case. It’s like any other home; the boys are not escaping, ‘escaping’ is the wrong word. They have absconded. ‘Escape’ makes it looks like you’re locked (up) and you cannot (leave). The boys can walk out you know,” the spokesperson said, adding that  the Ministry is advancing plans towards a new juvenile center for both boys and girls.

“The CDB (Caribbean Development Bank) has been here and they are looking at George Charles… they have begun plans. An architect is already redesigning to retrofit the George Charles Secondary and then the boys can be transferred there,” the spokesperson said.

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