Welshprison boss to take over Northward

| 18/05/2013

image.jpg(CNS): Neil Lavis, who has 30 years corrections experience in Britain, has been appointed as the Cayman Islands new prison director. Lavis is currently serving as the governor of HMP Swansea in Wales. Appointed because of key achievements during his three-year tenure there which have direct relevance for the HMCIPS, the new prison boss will start next month at a very challenge time of change for the local prison. HMP Swansea currently houses over 435 prisoners with 400 staff and a £9.5 million budget. Eric Bush, chief officer in the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, said he was confident Lavis would play a central role in efforts to improve the state of the local prison system.

“I was very happy to see the quality of applicants we attracted during the open recruitment process. We received 26 applications from highly qualified corrections professionals from all over the world and we are confident that Mr Lavis is the best person for the job,” Bush said.

The Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs started the recruitment process in February of this year in the wake of a damning report about HMP Northward and the failures in the local prison system.

After two rounds of shortlisting, comprising a review of candidates’ qualifications and experience and an evaluation of written responses to scenario questions, five candidates (three women and two men) were invited to attend an assessment centre and interview process in Grand Cayman. Lavis was chosen following thorough screening, which included rigorous background checks.

Commenting on his new appointment, Lavis said,  “I am keenly aware of the challenges ahead and am confident that I will make a positive difference and be able to deliver a prison service that meets the public expectations of keeping those in custody safe and secure and treating them decently while providing rehabilitation to break the cycle of offending, which will allow them to return to society better equipped to live as law abiding citizens.”

During his time at Swansea’s jail he has improved the overall prison performance from borderline level 2 to a level 4 high performing establishment under the rating system used by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP). He also improved mandatory drug testing, sickness levels, time out of cell and purposeful activity as required by the HMIP. He led and restructured the senior management team during a period of economic and social instability.

Lavis was also credited with maintaining a safe, decent prison and setting a strategy to improve resettlement provision and children and families pathways as well as linking with outside agencies to provide “through the gate” provision for prisoners resettling in the local community. He also effectively dealt with performance and conduct issues, including those of staff who hold senior management positions.

The authorities here said all of this experience would prove helpful for his new post.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Crime

About the Author ()

Comments (15)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. St Peter says:

    The UK putting someone there who will know how to handle a high-profile-inmate-politician, and a certain upstart-wanna-be-politician…

    Hope Mr Lavis will know how to lock-them-in-their-cell and subdue them from carrying on with their incoherent ranting and raving…

    • Anonymous says:

      And when he decides that he needs to get rid of a lot of West Indian guards for total incompetence, some with Cayman Status, and he wants to replace them with UK people he knows and trusts to be real rehabilitative guards, will he be supported by our Caymanian ministry and, in particular, politicians always worrying about the "racism"/anti Caymanian charge?? No. Repeat No. If this guy is any good – and I think he is – he will run up against our "Caymanian culture" which crucifies him from the get go and I bet no one told him about it when they intevierwed him and he will be soon saying "WTF, no one told me this prison and ths country was as effed as this and I couldn't do what what was necessary".

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. Anonymous says:

    They can bring anyone to run the prison but it will never change for the better betterment of the system. Until government stop getting involved with the running of the prison things can never get any better because of political influence.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Welcome Mr. lavis, i hope that you will be able to implement successful rehablitation programs so that the inmates will be better prepared on their release.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Good…now let's see what he will achieve..Govt. permitting.

    Good luck sir.

  6. WHAT !!!!!!! says:

    I just hope and Pray he turns it into a real PRISON as we got wey too many reoffenders… If you treat them how they deserve to be treated and feed them like other prisons feed them and take away all the lavish stuff and search them regularly you will not have so many who want to go back up there TRUST ME…They got life too easy up there!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      "…too many reoffenders…"


      This is a symtom of a broken culture, not of a broken prison.


      The important question is: "why do people commit a first offence"?


      • Anonymous says:

        Because they are lazy, greedy, selfish and immoral.

      • Anonymous says:

        That is a question that many countries would like an answer to, not just Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        Anon 1539 so when you have a mickie mouse prison that criminals dont respect and when they tell the prison officers to hold their cell we have a broken culture. I dont know about the broken culture argument but having a prison that does not scare prisoners one that does not evoke change in prisoners tells me we have a broken to non existant prison system.

      • Anonymous says:

        A study was commissioned under the last administration, perhaps back in 2009 (?) that was a lengthy and costly report of the reasons specific to Cayman for criminality.  It is well worth another read as you will find, these core reasons have not changed much, in fact, they have probably gotten worse.  It is an unpleasant aspect of any culture to recognise, let alone acknowledge, historical abuse (sexual/physical/spiritual), alcoholism, incest, to name just a few, especially when Cayman has been fighting so hard to maintain its own cultural identity of seafearing, religious Christian heritage.  The findings of this report do not in themselves damn the entirety of Cayman as a culture, but they exist in every society and in order to mitigate the impact of this element on our society for future generations to come or for whatever prision administration there may be, these facts must be acknowledged and addressed with as much transparency and honesty as is being demanded of the governmance of our country.  We have to be mature enough to acknowledge our mistakes in the past and our willingness to find solutions to address these issues in the future.  If we continue to sweep the unpleasantness of our past under the rug, it will continue to fill our prisions, rob our belongings and promulgate physical and sexual abuse and violence in our society.   Please read the report – it was on the CI Gov't website.


        CNS: I think this report is the one you're referring to.

  7. Anonymous says:

    He has his work cut out here. These high performing people from overseas often do not seem to be able to make much difference in the local environment. Let us hope this one is an exception.

    • Anonymous says:

      So true, Bobo

      • Anonymous says:

        There need to be good prison Inspectors who visit the prison on a regular basis, also inspectors that the prisoners respect and look up to and will trust. There was once a panel of Inspectors who was respected by the Prisoners and who they also trusted that would see to their rights such as the Late Mr Beatman, Mrs Nixon, and Mr Marquis.