Sat | Nov 25, 2017

JCF not at fault in lock-up repair scandal, says Quallo

Published:Saturday | October 14, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

Following the multimillion-dollar upgrading work to make at least four of the country's lock-ups more fitting to accommodate juvenile offenders two years ago, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), which has day-to-day responsibility for operation, has not been able to access and utilise the rehabilitated sections of these facilities.

"To my certain knowledge, we did not (take charge) because we actually asked for the completion certificate, which we didn't get, and because of what we found, we didn't accept it because we weren't satisfied with it," Police Commissioner George Quallo told Parliament's Internal and External Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

He was responding to a question from lawmaker Floyd Green as to why the JCF had accepted the renovated lock-ups even after recognising that they fell well short of the minimum acceptable standards that would make them juvenile friendly.

Caught off guard by the admission from Mitsy Beaumont-Daley, acting chief technical director in the Ministry of National Security, that correcting the mistakes of the contractors in question would cost tax payers millions, lawmakers were astonished by the poor quality of the original work. They heard that sheet metal on all the doors would need to be removed and that the roofs, which did not leak before, were now were in need of repairs. All walls would need to be repainted, and solar panels, which were never commissioned into service, would also need to be repaired.

Born out of the recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee of the Ministry of Youth and Culture in 2012 to address the inadequate, and, in many cases, appalling conditions under which children who ran afoul of the law were housed, juvenile delinquents are still being underserved by the State.

"The need is still urgent because one of the things we try not to do is to put children in adult facilities. Unfortunately, there are times when you have to do so, albeit we put them in separate cells, but the need for these facilities to be properly retrofitted and to be put in a state of readiness to be used is still very urgent," Commissioner Quallo told the committee.