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DPP calls for changes to the anti-gang legislation

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

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ROSE HALL, St James — Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn has expressed the need for parliamentary intervention to make allowances to the anti-gang legislation, in order to give police the powers to enter, search and seize.

“Would you believe that although the [anti-gang] legislation is so detailed in Jamaica... there are no express provisions in the Act for entry... giving the police investigators powers of entry, search and seizure of either suspected gang members or gang paraphernalia or documents, to be able to seize documents or other articles which identify criminal organisations or members and activities of the said criminal organisation?” the DPP bemoaned.

“Deputy Commissioner [of Police Clifford] Blake, I am sure that you have all picked it up. You need to make representation for Parliament to give you the express powers,” she said.

Speaking on the difficulties involved in prosecuting gang cases at the 33rd Annual General Meeting and Conference of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP) at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, yesterday, Llewellyn posited that the police should not have to be depending on search warrants from other statutes or from “a common law situation to get these articles”.

“It is important under the gang legislation and I would say this to other commissioners of police, who have comparative legislation, make sure that under the gang legislation you have express powers given by Parliament for entry, search and seizure,” she said.

The Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Bill, popularly called the anti-gang legislation, was passed in 2014.

The law makes provision for the disruption and suppression of criminal organisations and outlines offences, in order to restore a sense of security in the Jamaican society and strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies to deal with crime effectively.

In the meantime, the DPP also charged that the police should be empowered to prosecute individuals who assault “a constable in the execution of his duty”.

She noted that under the anti-gang legislation, the police in enforcing “the provisions of this Act will be going up against offenders who are violent and who have no fear of the forces of law and order”.

“So if there is an assault or obstruction in the lawful execution of the duties, then under the gang legislation the police should be able to use that legislation to prosecute persons under it. Section 30 of the Constabulary [Force] Act has remained unchanged, therefore I would ask you, on making that recommendation, to have your people make the necessary presentation to Parliament,” Llewellyn remarked.

“So with the increase in gang-related crimes in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean, there will always be more that needs to be done to increase effectiveness of prosecution. And while this Act is a step in the right direction, we must all seek to work together to make sure that efficiencies improve and that we, in fact, make good cases that are viable and that will stand up to the scrutiny of the courts and the Court of Appeal.”

The ACCP conference is being held under the theme: 'An Integrated Approach towards Serious and Organised Crime: Implications for Regional Growth and Development'.

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