Consultant continuing talks on alternatives to pre-trial detention

Amid serious revolts in the prison system, a consultant is on a second visit here which will see programmes designed to reduce the overcrowding of prisons by finding alternatives to pre-trial detention.

A statement from the Ministry of Public Security yesterday said that Peter Pursglove SC, a consultant under the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP) , is here  to hold consultations with senior government functionaries, members of the Judiciary and Magistracy and other stakeholders.  He arrived on Monday and will hold discussions up to tomorrow. 

Consultant Peter Pursglove (seated second from left) and members of the Judiciary and the Magistracy (Ministry of Public Security photo)

The statement said that from the consultant’s preliminary consultations with stakeholders it was recognised that currently there is no structured diversion programme here and that resources will have to be allocated by government if one is to be established. However, before designing and implementing such a programme, the statement said that it is necessary to analyse the relevant statistical and other types of information available on the various offender groups that may be targeted by any diversion programmes.

The statement said that among the consultant’s task are: screening criminal laws  to flag for legislative review any offences that need no longer be classified as criminal acts or which may now be decriminalised; gathering and analysing relevant statistical data on the various offender groups that may be targeted by any diversion programmes; consulting on the possibility of developing a diversion strategy aimed at taking certain types of offenders out of the criminal justice system and probing the possibility of establishing a pilot diversion programme for the mentally ill to ensure that offenders with these problems who enter the criminal justice system are identified and directed towards appropriate care. He will also be examining the prospects of a diversion strategy for alcohol and substance abusers aimed at curbing alcohol and drug related crime; and exploring possibilities for restorative justice as a diversion mechanism and alternative to imprisonment in relation to matters that would otherwise        be subject to criminal        sanctions.

As part of the CSSP the Consultant was hired to conduct research on models and good practices in the field of pre-trial detention and specifically to explore and present alternatives to pre-trial detention, the statement said.

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