UK will bring in ‘interim’ prisons boss to replace Lavis

Outgoing prisons director Neil Lavis will be replaced by another U.K.-based corrections manager early in the new year, the Ministry of Home Affairs confirmed in a statement released Tuesday.

Mr. Lavis, who unexpectedly resigned last month, will stay on until Dec. 15, at which time Deputy Prisons Director Daniel Greaves will take over through Dec. 31.

The ministry noted it had asked Governor Helen Kilpatrick’s office to request “expressions of interest” for the interim director’s post via the U.K. Association of Prison Governors, with an eye toward filling the role in January.

“Through this process, the ministry hopes to select a qualified individual to undertake the role in an interim capacity on secondment,” the ministry statement noted. “This will support business continuity in the prison and enable the ministry to conduct the recruitment exercise for a full-time prison director.”

Mr. Lavis told ministry officials and senior prions staff on Nov. 20 that he would resign, about five months after signing a new contract that would have kept him at Cayman’s prisons service through June 2020.

According to an announcement Mr. Lavis sent to some prison staffers: “I have decided to leave the Cayman service as director and return home. I will be going before Christmas and the family in the new year.”

Mr. Lavis first arrived in Cayman in June 2013, replacing former prisons boss Dwight Scott who retired in late 2012 after a number of scandals beset the prison system.

During the past two years, Mr. Lavis’s tenure was beset by a scandal involving a prisons deputy director attempting to use hidden camera surveillance on another prisons officer, which became public knowledge and ended in a falling out among senior prisons staff. The prisons officer being surveilled was alleged to have been involved in “inappropriate behavior” with prisoners, though she later denied that in an interview with the Compass.

There have also been questions raised concerning the backgrounds of some recent hires at the prisons service, the Compass has learned, which resulted in at least one of the new officers’ employment being ended. A second officer was suspended with pay and no final resolution has been reached in the matter.

In addition to staff problems, the overcrowded men’s prison, Northward, has seen tensions among prisoners rise within its walls since last year.

However, the ministry also noted there had been a number of big successes in Mr. Lavis’s recent tenure, including the hiring of 19 mew prisons officers and a start to the design process for a new prisons building.

Mr. Lavis implemented the release on temporary license program, which prepares lower-level or less violent offenders for re-entry into the workforce when their sentence ends. A total of 24 inmates have taken part in the program to date. The prisons service has also supported several other rehabilitation programs geared toward preventing recidivism.

Prisons also took over the daily management of the Immigration Detention Centre during Mr. Lavis’s tenure, supervising the care and repatriation of Cuban migrants who come to Cayman in makeshift watercraft.

“My goal as prison director has always been to provide a safe and secure environment for the people of this country, and to ensure the inmates in my care have access to any type of rehabilitation programme and treatment they need to facilitate their return to society and reduce the likelihood that they will reoffend,” Mr. Lavis said in a statement.