INDECOM accuses police of obstructing its investigations

INDECOM accuses police of obstructing its investigations

Thursday, June 04, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Terrence Williams, head of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), has voiced fresh concern that some members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) are obstructing INDECOM's operations and stopping its attempts to investigate allegations against them.

Williams has also reiterated his claim that unless changes are made to the laws governing the operation of INDECOM, which was established 10 years ago to provide independent investigations of allegations against members of the security forces, it will be a toothless tiger.

According to Williams, one of the areas of concern is the failure of the JCF to conduct any informal identification parade of police over the past two years despite a 2018 agreement that this would be done.

“Since then we have made about 10 requests for informal identification parades and so far the JCF has not assisted in a single case,” Williams told a media briefing yesterday.

“Despite many requests, many meetings, many promises, we do exactly what they ask and they don't do the parade,” said Williams as he alleged that because of the delays by the JCF some witnesses have lost interest in their cases.

Williams charged that the failure of the JCF to carry out the identification parades has led to police who break the law believing that they will not be caught because INDECOM will not be assisted.

The INDECOM boss said the matter has been brought to the attention of Parliament because he is convinced that unless the Commission has the same power of arrest and charge that the police have, it will be a sham as an investigative authority.

Williams also chided the JCF for what he said was the refusal of its members to serve notices on cops to give evidence in cases that it is investigating.

According to Williams, while there is a dispute about the law governing the serving of these notices, it was agreed between the JCF and INDECOM that the practice would continue until the Attorney General's chambers opines otherwise.

“Despite that promise we have numerous cases where police officers, including senior officers, refuse to accept the notices for service, saying that the Police Federation has dictated that, despite what the police commissioner has promised, they must not take the notice,” charged Williams.

He said the issue was being raised again to call on Parliament to amend the INDECOM Act to make it clear how the notices should be served.

Williams said another roadblock being placed in the way of INDECOM's investigations by the JCF is the outright refusal of access to its records by some police officers, or police officers wanting to show the INDECOM investigator only what the officers deem relevant.

“A routine part of police misconduct investigations is the prompt examination of police diaries, registers, and records,” said Williams.

He said it was long agreed by the JCF and himself that INDECOM would have direct access to these records but that is no longer the case.

Williams said while INDECOM could open prosecution against the cops who are obstructing its investigations, it would rather have compliance by members of the JCF.

“We believe that the JCF, as a disciplined organisation, should give instructions to its membership which is clear and unambiguous regarding compliance. We use this media as a last reminder to the JCF that this kind of impeding [of INDECOM's investigation] will result in them facing the court,” warned Williams.

Arthur Hall

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