This is a proud moment for me, as Minister of National Security, to address you on the occasion of Her Majesty’s Prison’s first-ever Employee Awards and Appreciation Ceremony. I must thank the Immanuel Methodist Church in Sandy Point for allowing this event at this time.
Undoubtedly, today must also be a proud moment for all 82 employees of Her Majesty’s Prison. I want to commend and encourage the 28 females for working in a male dominated field. Of these 28 female members of staff, 19 of them are prison officers. They work alongside 54 male prison officers in direct contact with the 211 inmates of whom 205 are males.
Today, the Ministry of National Security is taking time out to acknowledge 45 past and present staff members of Her Majesty’s Prison who demonstrate professionalism and excellence in a number of ways.
It is hoped that this first-ever Employee Awards and Appreciation Ceremony – which is the first of many, many more to come – will motivate all of you to raise the bar for yourselves, set new goals, adapt better to challenges and focus more on ensuring the organization’s success and enhanced reputation.
The more experienced officers can make the HMP a more successful operation, for instance, by being role models for new prison officers, as well as mentoring and actively engaging them. At this moment, you are presented with a very real opportunity to do just this, as nearly 20 percent of the HMP employees are new recruits. Fourteen recruits in total are attached to the newly revamped Skills Training Empowerment Program (STEP).
Let me commend the Prisons Service for its excellent rehabilitation work. Judging by the CSEC/CXC and CAPE subject passes attained by inmates between the years 2012 and 2017, I would say that HMP has already reached and surpassed this benchmark of training and education, and my administration encourages you and the residents to keep it up.
Data provided by H.M. Prison show that, in 2012, three (3) residents sat exams in Accounts and English and attained a total of five subject passes; in 2013, thirteen (13) residents sat exams in Accounts, English and Mathematics and attained a total of 17 subject passes. In 2014, seventeen (17) residents sat exams in Accounts, English, Mathematics and Human & Social Biology and attained a total of 16 subject passes. Between 2015 and 2017, the exam results only got better!
In 2015, twenty-three (23) residents sat exams in Spanish, Accounts, Mathematics, Social Studies, Principles of Business, Economics and Human & Social Biology and attained a total of 43 subject passes. In 2016, sixteen (16) inmates sat exams and returned a total of 33 subject passes in Biology, Integrated Science, Physics, Mathematics, Caribbean Studies, Communication Studies and Integrated Mathematics.
So far this year, two residents sat Social Studies and Principles of Business and attained a total of two subject passes.
They must all be congratulated, and so should all of you for your contribution to their success. These inmates will leave more able to engage in the field of work.
For employees in the prison system, hard work is a given and so too must honesty and integrity be expected, as well as a commitment to the safety of your colleagues, the inmates and the public. Knowledge of and adherence to policies and procedures are therefore valued, as well as professionalism, a watchful eye, a calm demeanour and an ability to de-escalate serious situations.
Team Unity is Investing in our Security Forces
You have what is undoubtedly a tough job, and my Team Unity administration is working hard to ensure that it is not a thankless job.
Since Day One, your Team Unity Government hit the ground running, working to boost staff morale throughout the country’s security forces. We recruited additional persons to complement the inadequate numbers in service to our country.
I am proud that under my Team Unity administration, there has been a never-before-seen vigour to support and advance the interests of the members of the Federation’s security forces through Employee Excellence Awards, like this one, and training opportunities.
For too long, the security forces had been left unappreciated, underserved and neglected. This was seen in the derelict condition of police stations and the coast guard premises, which my Team Unity Government is taking steps to ameliorate. Equally, the overcrowding and inadequacy of HM Prison should have been corrected 20 years ago. Team Unity has started preliminary works to get a brand new Prison available soonest. We do this because we care about people. We will work always to ameliorate the conditions of our people. The decency and dignity of our people must never be assailed.
This year, $72 million is being disbursed to the Ministry of National Security, representing an almost five-fold increase over the $15.3 million allocated to it in 2014. The $72 million is also exactly double the combined total amount disbursed to the Ministry of National Security in 2014 ($15.3 million) and 2015 ($20.7 million). We have pumped an unparalleled level of resources into National Security. We have invested in personnel, equipment and appliances, and expanded the development of our Prisons, our Police and Defence Forces.
Your Team Unity Government increased the risk pay for our security forces by 20 percent in our first Budget. We intend to do so again in our next Budget. Also, because of my administration, officers throughout the country’s security establishment who have graduated from higher education are now compensated more equitably for their qualifications without disturbing the rank based system of mobility in their unit.
Our investments are strategic. They occur because our Team Unity Government is doing all that we can to ensure prolonged peace and security for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. I urge all of you here to play a part. Let us expedite the peace dividend. We can yield a peace dividend by saying no to gun violence, no to crime, no to vengeance. Vengeance is mine says the Lord.
I encourage staff members in the prison system to take their responsibility of monitoring the security operations at HMP and the other facilities seriously and to make sure that deficiencies are addressed appropriately. My administration has made it clear – and will continue to demonstrate – that there is zero tolerance for the distribution and promotion of contraband. We hope that all employees will cooperate – and where they fail to do right, the consequences will be firm and justly distributed.
Your Team Unity Government has proven time and time again that we care about increasing the quality of life and opportunities for each and every one of our citizens and residents. That is why we have come here today – to remind ourselves that with God’s help and the commitment of all of us, our beautiful land of St. Kitts and Nevis can be the safest and most prosperous country in the Western hemisphere.
This is my vision of this dear land that I love so very much.
This is the vision that inspires my government not to be weary in well doing.
My gratitude is extended to all our security officers.
To God be the glory, I thank you.