By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
FORMER Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Thompson yesterday called for the government to allow the Royal Bahamas Police Force to investigate recent claims by government officials that one doctor allegedly provided 69 prison officers with sick notes in one day.
Mr Thompson said a complaint should be made to the Commercial Crime Section of the Central Detective Unit to get to the bottom of the matter.
National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage made the sick note allegations during his contribution to the mid-year budget debate in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, and further claimed the doctor in question was not in office on the day the notes were written.
Mr Thompson said: "A complaint should be made to the police for investigation by the Commercial Crime Section of the Central Detective Unit where there exists a highly skilled and dedicated staff.
"It is possible that crimes such as forgery, uttering forged documents and fraud by false pretence may be discovered, which could result in criminal prosecutions. There is also the possibly of discovering gross unethical conduct, which could be reported to the Ministry of Health and the Medical Association.
"The practice of obtaining sick certificates by fraudulent means is very prevalent in our country and must be reported to the police when discovered or suspected."
Last month nearly two-thirds of prison officers scheduled to work called in sick for three consecutive days. At the time, Bahamas Prison Officers Association president Gregory Archer denied all reports of a “sick out” and claimed all officers not at work had “legitimate sick slips.”
However, Sgt Archer had suggested that officers were “sick and tired” as a result of poor working conditions at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.
Sgt Archer said that the complaints expressed by his association were not new. He insisted that the government has been made aware “over and over again” of the problems, but refuses to resolve the matter. He said that the longer these matters went unanswered, the longer officers would be unable to perform.
Last month, the Caribbean Association of Corrections (CAC) executives revealed in a statement that the group was “very concerned” with present issues facing officers at the correctional facility.
The group suggested that if issues at the facility are not corrected, the situation has the potential to “disrupt the smooth operations at the correctional facility”.
The group said it was willing to be a part of the mediation process between prison officers and the government.