The foundations may be in place, but work on a new juvenile remand centre has been put on hold while the Cayman Islands government goes back to crunch the numbers.
Community Affairs Minister Dwayne Seymour insisted the project had been delayed rather than halted.
He said that since it looked like the project would cost more than $10 million – and would thus require permission from the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office to go ahead under stricter procurement rules adopted by government late last year – his ministry was taking a second look at the costs involved in the construction of the proposed centre.
He added that Governor Duncan Taylor had asked for the estimated costs of the project to be justified.
“All angles are being evaluated. If necessary, changes need to be made to ensure that there is value for money and that the expense of this project can be toned down,” Mr. Seymour told reporters during a media briefing Thursday.
The minister has also sought a legal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office on the ramifications of the youth remand centre not being completed by 6 November this year. The 2009 Constitution calls for juvenile prisoners by that date to be segregated from adult prisoners and to be housed in a safe and secure facility while in custody after being arrested or charged with a criminal offence.
Dorine Whittaker, chief officer of the Ministry of Community Affairs, Gender and Housing, said the ministry will go ahead with completing the facility. But the project will have to meet the terms of the Financial Framework of Responsibility, which stipulates that any government project costing more than $10 million would need to get the green light from the FCO.
The ministry is working to prepare a paper to show the justification of the costs of the remand centre. That paper may be ready when Cabinet meets again on Tuesday, 26 February, Minister Seymour said.
Some juvenile remand prisoners are housed at Northward, the adult male prison. Other juveniles are held at the Eagle House detention centre.
The new site for the youth remand centre is near the Fairbanks women’s prison, in a wooded area south of Fern Circle and west of Fairview Road in the George Town district.
A report by the UK’s Prisons Inspectorate released recently found that juvenile prisoners being housed with the adult population at Northward were at “critical risk” of being recruited into local gangs or even being sexually assaulted by older prisoners.
Planning permission for the new 21,000 square-foot remand centre was granted in August 2011, which at the time had an estimated construction cost of $8 million. Ms Whittaker said Thursday that it appeared the overall “lifetime” cost for the project would be more than $10 million.
The project broke ground in March last year.