Swansea prisons governor to run Cayman system

The Cayman Islands has selected the governor of a Welsh prison to take over the vacant post of director for Her Majesty’s Prisons in the Caribbean territory.

Neil Lavis, a 30-year veteran of the UK prisons service, took up the governor post at Swansea in the spring of 2010. He’s expected to assume the new post on Grand Cayman starting next month.

Mr. Lavis will replace retired prisons director Dwight Scott, who left the job last year under a cloud. 

According to reports in the Welsh news media from 2011, the Swansea prison faces many of the same problems as those experienced at HM Northward [the adult men’s prison] and HM Fairbanks [the women’s prison].

Prisoners using drugs and mobile phones were noted as the most serious problems at Swansea prison during a UK inspection of the facility in 2010. Two-third of prisoners surveyed by the inspectorate said they had a drug habit. The prisons took the step of installing netting inside the perimeter fence to intercept drugs being tossed over the wall there.

The Cayman Islands has had a number of relatively recent incidents where drugs were found inside Northward Prison. Some of the incidents involved packages of contraband being thrown over the walls, others involved individuals bringing drugs into the prison.

In one incident, drugs were found in a box inside the Northward Prisons administration building.

According to a government press release sent out late Friday: HMP Swansea currently houses approximately 435 prisoners with a staff compliment of approximately 400 and a £9.5 million budget.

Chief Officer for the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Eric Bush said the new prison director will play a central role in efforts to improve the state of the local prison system.   

“We received 26 applications from highly qualified corrections professionals from all over the world and we are confident that Mr. Lavis is the best person for the job,” Mr. Bush said.

“I am delighted to be given the opportunity to lead the Cayman Islands Prisons Service,” Mr. Lavis said. “I am keenly aware of the challenges ahead and am confident that I will make a positive difference and be able to deliver a Prison Service that meets the public expectations of keeping those in custody safe and secure and treating them decently while providing rehabilitation to break the cycle of offending, which will allow them to return to society better equipped to live as law abiding citizens.”     

Please see more on this story in next week’s editions of the Caymanian Compass… 



  1. Given the existing problems at Northward and the required upgrades based upon the requirements listed by the UK inspection done to the tune of 20 million of which the government cannot afford, I would say that Mr Lavis has his work cut out for him.
    I wish him luck.

  2. Good luck to you Sr. this will be a difficult task to do.

    I hope your guards help you and don’t turn against you like they did with former Director Dwight Scott. All of those who are reading this comment and spent time in Northward under Mr. Scott regime, know the real reasons why he got fired.

    Cayman Islands prison is a place where those inmates who are whiling to make a change in their life are the ones that getting a hard time towards their rehabilitation progress.

    I served four years and eight months in that facility and based on my experience there, I can say that the only way Northward Prison inmates will be fully rehabilitated is if they change half of the staff that currently works there. One of the things I noticed during my time there is that the more humble you are, the worst treatment you get by some guards. They take advantage of that and use your kindness as a weakness.

    Inmates are not treated like it suppose to be. Some of the guards do as they will and forget that they were hired to look up for the inmates and guide them to the path of rehabilitation. There is a lot of provocation and disrespect from the guards towards the inmates. Certain guards act like the inmates are animal, and all that cause is tension between inmate and guard.

    I just hope Mr.Lavis with his experience and help of God can solve this problems that really affecting the life of many people, and so help those that for some reason are incarcerated and want to change their lives. Guide them into rehabilitation so they can live a law abiding life upon their return into society. That life that for so many of them may look unreachable due to the lack of communication and professionals in the institution.

    God bless.

  3. Why not use trained drug sniffing dogs to check visitors coming into the prison. That would make friends and family hesitate to bring drugs for the inmates.

    The dog/s, although expensive, don’t need health insurance, or pensions. Nor do they have favorites. They just need a good handler who looks after them.

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