Management dropped the ball in Nfld. youth centre escape

Breakout could have been prevented if earlier recommendations had been followed


St. John's (19 Feb. 2006) - The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE/NUPGE) says the escape of three residents from a provincial youth centre in Whitbourne could have been avoided if management had listened to staff.

The escape happened on Feb. 7 when the residents fled through a broken window. The incident occurred less than four months after an Oct. 16 breakout which also involved a broken window.

After the October incident, the union recommended at an occupational health and safety committee meeting on Jan. 6 that all the glass in the units be replaced with material of a higher standard. At the same time, the union presented management with "credible information" that another escape attempt was likely.

Despite this, no preventive action was taken, NAPE says.

"There is a lesson here for senior administration in correctional facilities," says union president Carol Furlong.

"NAPE members employed there have valuable suggestions to make about security and many other important issues. Their suggestions should be listened to as they usually merit prompt action by the employer. Management ignores such suggestions at its peril."

NAPE is the largest union in the province, representing more than 21,000 members in the health care, government, education, corrections, food processing, hospitality, security, retail and financial sectors. NUPGE