St John’s Police Station resumes full operations amid uncertain timeline for repairs

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Head of the St John’s Police Station, Assistant Commissioner of Police Samuel Joseph (Photo by Theresa Goodwin)
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The St John’s Police Station has resumed full operations following a two-day sit-in by officers in the Prosecution Department which affected magistrates’ courts proceedings.

But, while officers returned to work, uncertainties remain as no definite timeframe has been given for the much-needed repairs to the three-storey building, leaving concerns about its deteriorating state.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Samuel Joseph, who oversees the A Division to include the St John’s Police Station, said no fixed date has been set for commencing the repairs. However, he revealed that the relocation of the Prosecution Department has already begun to ensure the continuity of essential services.

To maintain operational capacity during the refurbishment period, authorities have decided to utilise a pre-fabricated container suite to host the station’s guard desk as a temporary solution. This measure will enable essential police operations to continue while addressing issues with mould, water damage, a leaking roof, and termite infestations in the main police station.

“We are hoping in short notice that those containers can be retrofitted to suit our needs,” ACP Joseph said, adding that the measurements of the yard space have been completed in anticipation of a container space, which he hopes will be ready by the end of the week.

He expressed the severity of the damage, saying, “There is no use whatsoever of the first and second floor … It was so bad that I can tell you one of my staff almost fell through the floor down to the guard desk.

“The water would seep down to the ground floor, into the guard desk area, into the waiting area of the guard desk, into the Criminal Records Office, causing damage to both government records and some exhibits,” he revealed.

The senior police officer conceded that the officers’ protest was justified, but he also pointed out that there might have been a breakdown in communication between the hierarchy of the police force and the officers, leading to misunderstandings and the decision to stage a protest to express their concerns.

ACP Joseph explained that the police hierarchy had already informed the Permanent Secretary of Public Works and the Minister of National Security about the intention to relocate the officers in anticipation of the repairs, but this information was not conveyed to the staff.

To assess the extent of the refurbishment needed, ACP Joseph, along with other members of police force hierarchy and the permanent secretary, conducted a thorough walk-through and inspection of St John’s Police Station on Monday.

Five staff members from the Prosecution Unit were expected to be relocated to the Police Headquarters on Wednesday.

Despite the disruptions caused by the sit-in, the magistrates’ courts have now resumed hearing cases as normal since the protest came to an end.

Officer Marilyn Harris, Head of the Police Welfare Association, told Observer that the executive was not informed of the sit-in but agreed that it was a “necessary” action. She, too, hopes that by the end of the week, renovation work at the St John’s station can begin.

“We cannot continue to sit by and be quiet about the way we’re treated. We’ve been ill-treated for decades and we have to do something about it,” she said.

Harris said almost all of the police stations as well as the temporary locations on island are in conditions that are not conducive for work.

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