Government has agreed to the temporary transfer of two convicted male prisoners from the Turks and Caicos Islands to Cayman, after parts of the prison in Grand Turk were damaged and crime rates in the islands increased significantly in recent years.

The prisoners arrived today at Owen Roberts International Airport, where they were handed over to Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service.

The prisoners are not the category of inmates that would warrant transfer to a UK prison, the government said in a press release.

They will be held in accordance with COVID-19 protocols at HMP Northward and will remain in quarantine for at least 14 days.

All costs will be borne by the TCI government.

According to the government statement, the Grand Turk prison was significantly damaged during hurricanes Irma and Maria in late 2017. Subsequently, a fire in the facility led to the high-security wing being demolished.

Although the rebuilding work has started, it is still in its early stages.

A serious rise in crime in Turks and Caicos since 2017 has increased the prison population and exacerbated the problem of overcrowding.

The transfer of the two prisoners to Grand Cayman is one of a range of steps being taken by the TCI government to help sustain safety, the press release stated.

The prisoners will be held at HMP Northward until the security situation at the prison in Grand Turk enables their return.

Commenting on the prisoner-transfer request by the TCI government, Governor Martyn Roper said, “I am pleased that the Cayman Islands, because of the quality of our Prison Service, has been able to step in and support a fellow Overseas Territory grappling with a difficult set of circumstances.”

The transfer was also approved by UK ministers, the release added.

Director of Prisons Steven Barrett said, “I was very open to providing support to one of our sister prison services given the pressures that they are under.

“The prisoners we received will be subject to a period of assessment and the outcome of that will determine how we manage them going forward,” he added.

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