As schools across Antigua and Barbuda get set to open their doors for the 2022-2023 school year, efforts are being made to ensure that each school plant has an actual security officer on site.
To this end, the head of Purcell’s Special Security Services and the Director of Education, Clare Browne, were invited to meet with the Executive on Wednesday, August 31.
Last week, Director Browne reported to the Cabinet on the issue of school break-ins and raised the matter of security on the school compounds.
Browne says thieves are breaking into government schools, damaging windows, doors and other infrastructure, and stealing furniture, computers, and any other valuables they can find.
Reportedly, these people have rummaged through the desks of principals, scattering important documents and papers on the floor. They have also engaged in other activities that hamper the schools’ productivity and create a feeling of insecurity.
If the thieves believe they will be caught, Browne says, then they would be less likely to engage in such anti-social/criminal behaviours, he says.
Purcell was accompanied to the Cabinet meeting by his accountant and another official. He pledged to do everything possible to ensure that human security is available to all the government-run schools.
The security company reportedly employs sbout 1,000 persons.
In addition to discussing security issues, Purcell spoke of the inherent challenge his company experiences, with so many employees and a resultant large weekly payroll.
Reportedly, the Government owes the business a significant sum, and the owner notes that the deployment of security staff is a capital-intensive venture.
Accordingly, the Cabinet made a pledge to provide enough financial resources to enable Special Security Services to dispatch security workers on Monday morning, September 5, to all schools.
Meanwhile, it was agreed, last week, that the Government will have security cameras installed on the perimeter of school buildings and also within certain offices that are attractive to thieves.
The Cabinet also accepted the proposal of building strong-rooms, or large safes, on the compounds in which high-value items can be stored.
The Ministry of Works says it will continue to source the cameras and security software required to make the 37 public schools less vulnerable to thieves and trespassers.
Advice and support will come from the Ministry of Information and Technology.