GIS - 10 November, 2015: A full-scale emergency preparedness drill was held last week at the Richelieu Open Prison (ROP) with a scenario of hostile intruders at night.
The intruders were actually prison officers in disguise, masquerading as bad guys in the ‘routine’ safety drill. According to the scenario, prison officers working on night shift were doing their routine checks at night when they were diverted from their work and noticed three suspicious men inside the prison compound attempting to free one of their friends who was currently serving his sentence at ROP.
At one point, assistance was sought from the Prison Security Squad (PSS) as well as from the nearby police station. Prison officers tried to contain the situation to the best of their abilities, preventing the intruders from freeing the prisoner. In the meantime, the Forward Commander of the PSS gave specific instructions to his team and within a few minutes they were deployed on site, where they carried out a control and restraint intervention where efforts to negotiate a peaceful end to the situation were successful.
Within a few minutes, the three intruders together with two others who were in a vehicle parked near the prison compound were apprehended by the PSS and handed over to the police.
When the drill was over, a debriefing session was held in the conference room, where responders and prison staff talked about what went right and wrong. This training consisted of testing the emergency management plans that the Emergency Management Planning Team (EMPT) have developed and further to enhance its policies and procedures in the event of such an emergency.
The Officer-in-Charge of ROP, Assistant Commissioner of Prisons, Mr. J. Pudaruth commended the prison staff of ROP, the PSS and the EMPT for the very professional manner in which they managed this live drill.
For his part, the Deputy Commissioner of Prisons and Chairman of the EMPT, Mr. R. Rughoobeer, explained that the EMPT conducts routine safety drills to prepare for any type of situation that the prison might face and described the drill as “safe and controlled”.
Drill exercises in prisons
The Mauritius Prison Service regularly conducts simulation exercises of different types in the different prisons. The objective is to test the effectiveness of response of prison staff, Prison Security Squad, Police department, EMPT and the Security and Emergency Services Group.
All emergency planning and drills are coordinated by the EMPT at the Strategic & Planning Unit, under the supervision of a Deputy Commissioner of Prisons.