(SNO) – After it was announced in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) that Saint Lucian Verne Garde was confirmed as the new Superintendent of Prison at Her Majesty’s Prison in Balsam’s Ghut, Tortola, a number of Virgin Islanders expressed their dissatisfaction with his employment.
They argued via social media that a Virgin Islander should have been given the opportunity to run the prison.
Garde, the former director of the Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF) in Saint Lucia, took up duties as the new prison boss on July 2, 2018, on a two-year contract.
He is on probation for six months.
A BVI government press release states: “The Saint Lucian has over 23 years of applicable experience in the field of Criminal Justice having served for 20 years in various ranks of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force including, Beat and Patrol, Drug Unit, Central Intelligence Unit, Inspector of Police and Head of Special Branch. He also served as the Director of Corrections with the Bordelais Correctional Facility in St. Lucia for three years.”
However, the locals are still not happy. They also find it quite coincidental that Garde was given the top job during the time prisoners from the BVI are being housed at BCF. The St. Lucia government took in about 21 prisoners after the hurricanes severely damaged the BVI prison last year.
Here are some of the comments via social media in the BVI (unedited):
“Do the territory not have qualified locals capable of executing such responsibilities. And if no, why not? Whatever happened since past days of the VIP and NDP’s initiatives to train our own?”
“Why must all of our high paying positions always be going to outsiders, Brits or others, along with the money so desperately in our won home?”
“Why not hire a local.this madness have to stop.ndp you are gone.”
“Since he was doing such a good job, how come st.lucia let him go???”
“Tell us the truth. Why is he leaving his st at this time for BVI? Who was the person in the involved in getting him interested in coming here. Nothing is mentioned about his character. Someone mushave been involved.”
“Wow, my sentiments exactly…. Like everything else, money talks, so I’m certain the salary and or perks offered to him exceeded what he was being paid in St Lucia. If he is leaving the position in St Lucia per a lesser salaried position in the BVI, that is commendable, but I doubt that is the case. Once again, money talks and….”
“Is there a connection between the prisons going to St. Lucia after Irma and him coming here? Superintendant Foot did a fine job. Sad to see him go…he was a man of humility and compassion and I believe he treated the prisons with dignity and respect. Let’s home this one does the same.”
“You bet your bottom dollar, it amounts to ———. He talked his way into this job after the prisoners went to St. Lucia. St. Lucian know how to —– — very well.”
“A Prison Guard called Garde. They had to give him the job.”
“In the meantime, Garde is said to have 23 years of experience in criminal justice. He has served in various units of the Royal St Lucia Police Force including, Beat and Patrol, Drug Unit, and the Central Intelligence Unit. Garde has also served as Inspector of Police, and Head of Special Branch. Garde was head of his home country’s adult penitentiary for three years. There is some one in the Virgin Islands with that experience and exposure. Why were they not approached?”
“I am shame to call myself a BVILander. You guys always have to talk down people. Has it ever occurred to you guys that someone from the outside needs to head this unit as someone from home might hold favoritism towards the prisoners. We don’t need someone who will grant them favors or someone who is going to be their friend.”
“Are there no B. V. Islanders qualified to do the job?”
However, the outgoing prison boss, David Foot, who, like Garde, is a non-Virgin Islander, said there are no locals currently capable of running the prison, according to a report on BVI News.
The BVI News further states:
Foot said said the current crop of local prison officials is, frankly, not ready.
“Right now, from the persons who are available, it needs more time for those people to get the skills. They need to come into some of the more middle-management and more senior management positions and gain experience.”
However, Foot said a number of local prison officials are currently being coached to eventually qualify to head the prison. He said these locals are part of an ‘intensive development programme’ that trains them to become professional prison managers.
The former prison boss further said the programme is a collaborative effort with the UK prison service.
“What I firmly believe is that there are persons from the Virgin Islands who — over the next few years — if they continue through that process, will be capable and will become Superintendent of Prisons, without a shadow of a doubt.”