Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has disclosed that there will need to be increased security at Government offices, especially the Welfare Department, where weapons have been taken from persons who went to do business there.
He made the disclosure Monday after touring the Weymouth Complex, (where a section of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Welfare Department are housed, along with other state offices) and Government Headquarters on Bay Street, in preparation for a meeting of Government’s Standing Accommodation Committee, which was held today.
Stuart said he was “shocked to see that display of weapons”, which included knives and ice picks, that had to be taken from members of the public when they were frisked by the security guards at the Welfare Department.
“I think, therefore, that security at that department has to be beefed up… We are going to have to not only ensure that the security levels at the Welfare Department and I think now other Government departments, [be] raised to the highest level, but I think that when people are caught with these things that they should be handed over to the police. I do not think that people have to walk around with these weapons; it is just not satisfactory,” he firmly stated.
Stressing that the matter was of “grave concern”, the Prime Minister continued: “I was not at all amused by the fact that I was told that some elderly persons, when frisked, had to be relieved of some of those weapons as well.”
He warned: “We are not going to have a Barbados where that culture prevails. So, let the word go forth that we will be paying much closer attention to this troubling phenomenon and whatever steps have to be taken to wrestle it to the ground will be taken without any fear and without any favour.”
After the comprehensive tour, Stuart said he was quite pleased, in some instances, with the conditions under which the overwhelming majority of employees were working.
“But, there were some particular cases that caused me a little concern, problems of congestion and the actual physical state of the building. But, these are issues that can be resolved, I think, within the constraints of our present financial situation. I think that these are not problems that are insurmountable, but of course knowing about them is important,” he stressed.
In particular reference to the Welfare Department, he noted that it was a unique one, since it dealt with people who were experiencing various levels of distress. Therefore, he expressed the view that the employees there should work under conditions that were “as congenial as possible” because their stress levels were sometimes put to the test daily by their clients.