Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Arabia steps up security in women’s prisons | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Specialized authorities in Saudi Arabia are seeking to enhance the security awareness of those working in women’s prisons, to ensure the application of general principles for dealing with female prisoners, or those on remand, in accordance with the penal system adopted in the country.

These endeavors come in the form of a series of specialized courses – designed to develop the security skills of staff in Saudi prisons organized by Naif Arab University for Security Sciences in cooperation with the General Directorate of Prisons – which concluded yesterday in Riyadh.

Dr. Khalid al-Harfash, Director of Public Relations and Media at Naif Arab University, told Asharq Al Awsat that the program is targeting 72 female prison officials and will be applied in four phases covering all areas of Saudi Arabia.

He added: “When staff and officials in women’s prisons have a high degree of security awareness, they are more able to spot any danger that might occur within the confines of a women’s prison. Likewise they are able to detect ways in which some prisoners can be manipulated by other inmates; those who have committed major crimes, and the impact this has on their behavior”.

Dr al-Harfash highlighted the importance of developing a security culture for those working in prisons, stressing that it is important for staff to become acquainted with the security procedures of facilities, as well as all relevant documents and information.

Al-Harfash explained that staff are being informed of the systems and regulations in place in Saudi prisons, as well as criminal procedure systems, in addition to being taught how to recognize psychological and social problems among inmates, how to negotiate with prisoners, and ways of dealing with prison riots if they occur.

The Naif Arab University Director of Public Relations and Media also revealed that the most common incidents reported in women’s prisons are cases of hysterical crying, severe depression and hunger strikes, adding that such cases vary by age, region and social environment.

The Naif Arab University program provided sessions on a number of topics. These included security awareness, writing reports, first aid, field visits, internal safety systems, search and arrest, as well as how to conduct investigations and interrogations, how to search for drugs and other contraband, how to identify counterfeiting and forgery, and finally the psychological conditions of inmates and how to deal with them.

The university organized these courses, along with a series of similar educational activities, in response to the desire of the Saudi General Directorate of Prisons to strengthen cooperation. The program derives its axis from the values of religion and its principles, as well as Saudi cultural norms and traditions that underpin this.

The Ministry of Civil Service has previously cooperated with Naif Arab University for Security Sciences to provide training programs for relevant authorities in the fields of security and criminal justice.