(SNO) – The Ministry of Home Affairs, Justice and National Security is moving ahead with plans to improve the physical working conditions for police officers across the island despite limited financial resources.
The construction and location of a new police headquarters, reconstruction of the Gros Islet Police Station, working conditions at immigration departments, the temporary relocation of the Central Police Station, as well as the recent relocation of the Soufriere Police Station, were some of the matters discussed in this regard at a meeting on Thursday with Minister Hermangild Francis and senior police officers.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet had stated in his April 2018 Budget Address that government is at an “advanced” stage in finalising the financing for the construction of the new police headquarters and Gros Islet Police Station.
Francis confirmed in an interview with HTS that the government is trying “our very best” to find a suitable location for the new police headquarters. He said the decision-making process to finalise the “most viable solution” will be guided by experts in the construction industry.
“We are now also discussing as to whether we will be rebuilding a new police headquarters for the officers, as to which location they want. Whether they want the La Toc version or they would prefer to stay at Bridge Street where they are presently located,” he told HTS.
However, the minister is not keen on demolishing the current headquarters because of the historical value of the building’s architecture.
“I like the facade, I like the old look of Police Headquarters, and I think that we should try and to keep some of our artifacts and some of our buildings in the situation they are in right now,” he noted.
The Central Police Station is also in need of dire repairs, though it underwent some renovations sponsored by Rayneau Construction. On Monday, June 18, 2018, the police announced the temporary relocation of the Central Police Station on Bridge Street, Castries to the Conference Room of Police Headquarters at Chesterfield, Castries.
Francis told HTS that the work undertaken by Rayneau Construction was much needed and he is grateful to Rayneau Gajadhar for the kind gesture, but there is still a lot to be done.
“It was just a quick fix at the time and I want to thank Mr. Rayneau for doing that at the time. It was something that needed to be done, and he did a good job at the time, but it wasn’t as thorough as it could have been, because they needed it immediately to do. But this time we’ll have some more time on our hands, so we can do a proper assessment,” Francis told HTS.
The Soufriere Police Station, which have been plagued by health and safety problems, was also on agenda at Thursday’s meeting. The station was moved to the Bank of Saint Lucia building on Bridge Street in Soufriere on June 4, 2018.
The authorities are also contemplating future plans for the Gros Islet Police Station, which was moved from Dauphin Street in Gros Islet town to the Rodney Bay sub-station in August 2013 due to mold infestation and other issues, and moved again, in February 2014, to its present location at the old Boys’ Scouts Association building in Massade, Gros Islet. The original Dauphin Street location remains abandoned.
Immigration officers have also been complaining about poor conditions for sometime now.
Last week it was reported that a number of immigration officers at the Hewanorra International Airport had been reporting sick.
Despite efforts by this government and previous governments, law enforcement officers believe much more can be done to alleviate the problems affecting their health and welfare.