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On the right track

new centre in the works to monitor offenders

Barbados could be getting a 911 centre, and at the same time, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite is hinting that it could double as a monitoring centre for tracking offenders.

The St. Philip South MP told the House of Assembly today as members debated a supplementary to the Ministry of Home Affairs for the prison and fire service, that he believed tracking of offenders was a viable alternative to prison time.

Noting that in 2010 the then AG for Bermuda had an electronic tracking device attached to her foot to assess it’s applicability to the system, Brathwaite said: “Bermuda, I think, has gone in that direction and we, the ministry, have had two demonstrations and we do intend to recommend to Cabinet and to the country that we consider the use of tracking devices for certain individuals who are on bail.

“These devices, based on the presentation we received and that I saw, are very, very accurate. So you can require that an individual not frequent a certain zone and that device can actually advise you if the individual goes into that zone,” he said.

The same boundaries could be applied to individual homes, he said, adding: “Having seen the device at work, I have bought into the fact that we need to assist us not only in terms of reducing the prison population, but where there are cases of merit, that these individuals can continue their lives in society so they can continue to go to work and be with their families, etc., whilst being monitored on a daily basis as they are now while on remand.”

Recipe for disaster

He said he was concerned about the number of persons on remand, noting that such individuals were not on the same programme as other prisoners, and if they were “sitting around doing little or nothing on a daily basis it is a recipe for disaster”.

The AG said he believed monitoring methods utilising available technologies was one such possible solution to this concern. He however noted that there were other issues to consider such as staffing, getting probation and other departments involved, as well as the issue of where the tracking monitoring centre or technologies would be located.

In this vein, he then noted that a 911 emergency centre was being considered for the island, that could be the solution.

“We believe based on our discussions that we will place it within a centre that we intend to create. It is our present plan to have a 911 centre, I believe we would call it. For example if you are calling police, if you are calling fire, if you are calling ambulance, you will call one number. You will meet the same level of professionalism.

“We want to also have a centre that is hurricane resistant, that is earthquake resistant. We want to have it located within a position and certainly physically able to withstand hurricanes, so if we have an event that centre continues to function, and based on our present discussions it is in that centre that we will also repose the responsibility of monitoring of individuals.” (LB)

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