By Matt Maura
Bahamas Information Services
NASSAU, The Bahamas — The establishment of the new Correctional Intelligence Unit (CIU) at the Department of Correctional Services (formerly Her Majesty’s Prison) represents a more focused, interagency approach to security and intelligence in The Bahamas – especially at the Correctional level.
One of the primary goals of the Unit will be to help reduce possible internal and external threats to the Correctional Services, its facilities, staff and inmate populations.
At a dedication ceremony establishing the new CIU at the Department of Correctional Services on Monday, Minister of National Security, the Hon. Dr. Bernard J. Nottage said the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) must be aware of all threats within and outside of the institution that may disrupt its normal operations or threaten the safety and security of staff and inmates.
Effectively managing security threats at the Correctional Facility, Dr. Nottage continued, depends upon timely and precise information.
“The Correctional Intelligence Unit is comprised of personnel trained in observation and information gathering. They are tasked to continuously scan the environment inside the prison to produce information dealing with threats for the attention of decision-makers,” Dr. Nottage said.
“This information (will) help correctional officers and other prison officials to foresee, control and even prevent the risks faced. The scope of intelligence gathered will also cover environments outside of prison facilities to give a broader picture of the threats from both inside and outside the walls of the institution.”
One such threat is possible gang activity within the walls of the Correctional Services. Dr. Nottage said as the Royal Bahamas Police Force responds to criminal activities of gangs, more and more gang members will wind up at the facility.
“We must therefore take steps to ensure that the Services do not become a concentrated gang environment and recruitment centre for gang members,” Dr. Nottage said.
“As you would appreciate, maintaining integrity in a public safety organization is essential to earning the respect of society. The Department of Correctional Services recognizes that unregulated activities of criminal enterprises pose a direct threat to public safety and the safety and security of the institution and undermine the public confidence of the Department to carry out its mission for the citizens of The Bahamas.”
The CIU will be further charged with taking the necessary steps to maintain the integrity of the Department of Correctional Services and will be responsible for handling all serious offenses and allegations. The Unit will investigate both administrative and criminal matters relative to staff, inmates and even members of the general public whenever there is a vested interest with the DCS.
“The Unit is responsible for objectively conducting thorough, impartial and timely investigations to determine the validity of allegations,” Dr. Nottage said. “The results of these inquiries may provide a basis for criminal prosecution, corrective administrative action, or both.”
The National Security Minister said the establishment of the CIU is part of a progressive, interagency approach needed to more effectively address crime in The Bahamas.
“To more effectively address crime in our country, we need to embrace a ‘whole of government,’ coordinated approach to the challenges with which we are faced,” Dr. Nottage said. “It is an approach that integrates, for example, the efforts of the Department of Correctional Services, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Customs Department, the Department of Immigration and the Port Department to achieve unity of effort toward a shared goal.
“We have sought to do this with the establishment of the Heads of Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA) in which the leaders interact regularly for the exchange of information and for the development and implementation of crime-fighting strategies and operations.”