(Joel Krahn/Yukon News)

Yukon RCMP, justice department mum on Whitehorse courthouse cellblock

Neither will say if work is being done to address ‘deficiencies’ identified in an RCMP inspection

The Yukon RCMP and department of justice have been mum on what work, if any, is being done on the Whitehorse courthouse’s cellblock more than two months after the police force pulled its members from the space.

Yukon RCMP personnel who previously facilitated the movement of Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC) inmates within the cellblock — transferring inmates from the cellblock’s sally port to a courtroom or holding cell, for example — stopped working in it following an inspection by the RCMP’s departmental security branch (DSB) Jan. 18 that identified several “deficiencies” within it.

Correctional officers with the Yukon department of justice have since taken over those duties. Yukon RCMP is continuing to transfer inmates back and forth from the WCC to the courthouse.

In response to emailed questions, department of justice spokesperson Megan Foreman said the department is “not in a position to provide any details in respect of renovations or modifications that are being done to address security concerns.”

“As result of security concerns being raised by the RCMP, we have taken some immediate steps and we continue to assess the situation,” she wrote.

“At present, we are in a situation where inmates are being brought to courts in a safe and timely manner and the business of the courts is continuing without any delay arising from inmate transportation. On some occasions we are facilitating court appearances by video conference.”

The department did not offer a response to follow-up questions about whether a timeline for repairs has been established or how much those repairs might cost.

In an interview March 16, Yukon RCMP Supt. Brian Jones said that there has been “no permanent way forward identified,” including any sort of timeline or if RCMP personnel will ever be back in the cellblock again.

As the courthouse is a government-owned building, Jones said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on what action, if any, is taken in regards to addressing the cellblock’s “deficiencies.”

“We’ve raised those concerns with (the government) and we’ve provided them with a rationale of why we’ve removed our officers from the cellblock,” he said. “We’re in discussion with them and we’ll await to see what their response is, but again, I emphasize, we’re going to continue to support the administration of justice. We’re working together. We have a very good relationship with them and that continues to this day.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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