Oppositon Senator Wade Mark

It’s a conflict of interest to have one private security company responsible for both the prisoner transport system as well as providing equipment for the electronic monitoring bracelet system for offenders.

Those were the concerns raised yesterday by UNC Senator Wade Mark – on the issue during Senate debate on legislation for the electronic monitoring system. Independent Senator Paul Richards also voiced concern on the private company’s deepening “footprint” in this country’s National Security landscape.

The monitoring devices are proposed to aid justice systems including for bail issues, domestic violence protection orders or for pardons granted.

National Security Minister Stuart Young said Amalgamated Security Services Ltd received a $10.3m contract -with Israeli firm Attenti Ltd- to supply equipment. Young assured the private company would not be handling operations since state agencies would do so. Workers manning those units have to take an oath of secrecy.

He hoped the law would be proclaimed by next week.

Opposition senator Mark said the bill arose under the PP Government and any attempt to strengthen it was welcomed.

He said if it needed a special majority vote, UNC would be willing to “correct deficiencies.”

Mark said he expected the use of the devices would be done among the 300 plus prisoners being released due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Mark took issue with the private company providing devices and also handling prisoner transport which Amalgamated does.

He said he was also concerned about the evaluation team handling the provision of equipment for the devices. He said the team which issued a July 2018 report on bids for the system “…Were told to amend their report. They were called by IgovTT to amend their report and after that, we saw this company winning the contract.”

Independent Senator Richards said he too had concerns about the private sector entity having a deeper footprint in National Security.

”I don’t know if it’s that much of a productive development,” he added.

Richards queried why National Security could not have done the system acquisition itself. He noted Amalgamated’s involvement with the Israeli firm in the contract. He said the entity Amalgamated liaised with is a well-known company.

”I’m not seeing the value, apart from (being) a successful broker to provide the equipment. I don’t know that the ministry couldn’t have gotten it done or it couldn’t have been done by the National Fusion Centre,“ he said.