Front Page
April 1, 2005

A contingent of Vincentian Police Officers is expected to spend at least one month on neighbouring island Barbados.

And according to Vincentian Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves: “It appears as though they would be required for one month in the first instance.” {{more}}

“We would assess the situation thereafter,” the Prime Minister added.

“The officers will provide security at the various points where prisoners would be housed,” Dr. Gonsalves outlined.

His disclosure came as Wednesday’s sitting of Parliament wound up in Kingstown. It was a response to an escalation of events at Her Majesty’s Prison Barbados, one hundred miles east of mainland St. Vincent.

An outbreak of fire at that island’s penitentiary raised security concerns that have taken a regional outlook. That matter erupted last Tuesday and spilled into Wednesday.

So much so that Dr. Gonsalves, Chairman of the Regional Security Services was contacted to assist.

What caused the furore at the Barbadian lock up is still being pieced together. However, at least one prisoner, Junior McDonald ‘Nook Nook’ Boyce died during the melee.

A trustee inmate struck him over the head with a hammer after he allegedly attacked a prison warder Tuesday morning. That day marked the turning point of life at the correctional institution. There are different versions as to the sequence of events at the institution with a population of some 997 male inmates, and 51 women housed in a compound nearby.

Allegations of homosexuality, apparently condoned by a prison officer are attributed as one of the sparks of the breakdown of order.

Barbadian Attorney General Mottley acknowledged that overcrowding contributed to the deterioration. In an address to her nation, she assured Barbadians that all was well.

However, in addition to the death, reports in the Barbados Nation newspaper were that 14 persons were taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on that coral-based island. They received injuries as a result of the fracas at the jail.

Mottley pointed out that “stabilisation” was priority at the jail. However, strands of smoke curled from the institution and some 350 inmates were transferred to alternative housing arrangements.

The outbreak affected supplies of meals at the institution and the School Meal Service was deployed to cater for the prison population in view of the raging of certain sections of the jail.

The situation was played out on radio here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Vincentians incarcerated there, contacted their homeland and highlighted the situation as it unfolded. They called for intervention by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. However, the calls seemed to have stopped by late Wednesday evening, and the belief was that authorities had blocked access to calls by inmates.

There has been no disclosure of the Vincentian number, but speculations are that the percentage could be in the upper order.