Police commissioner rejects claim cops are blocking INDECOM

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Police commissioner rejects claim cops are blocking INDECOM

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, June 05, 2020

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POLICE Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson has rejected claims that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is obstructing the operation of the body set up to probe complaints against members of the security forces, the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM).

On Wednesday, head of INDECOM Terrence Williams expressed concern that the commission was struggling to properly do its job, because members of the JCF were not cooperating in areas such as informal identification parades of accused cops, the serving of notices on its members, and allowing the examination of station diaries, registers, and records.

But at a media briefing yesterday, Anderson said the JCF is cooperating with INDECOM, adding that the number of cases investigated by the commission each year is proof of that.

He noted that last year INDECOM investigated 612 complaints against members of the JCF and recommended six criminal charges and disciplinary action in 37 of the cases.

This followed 2018, when the commission probed 599 complaints and recommended five criminal charges and 26 disciplinary actions.

“There is no way you could get through all of those [cases] without support from the JCF, without the JCF making its members available, and without [the JCF] being a part of those investigations,” declared Anderson.

“Normally when these investigations occur, our own internal branch IPROB [Inspectorate and Professional Standards Oversight Bureau] becomes a part of that and assists that process. Our legal office does also,” added Anderson.

Responding to the allegation from Williams that the JCF has failed to conduct any informal identification parade of police over the past two years, despite a 2018 agreement that this would be done, Anderson said he was aware of only five outstanding cases.

Williams had told the media that INDECOM made about 10 requests for informal identification parades in the past two years, and so far the JCF has not assisted in a single case.

“Despite many requests, many meetings, many promises: 'If you do this we will do the parade'; 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 head also claimed that another roadblock being placed in the way of the commission is the outright refusal of access to records by some police officers, or police officers wanting to show the INDECOM investigator only what the officers themselves 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.

However, Anderson said there is an established protocol guiding access to the documents, and if individuals are breaching the protocol he just needs to know.

“But as an organisation, not only is it a matter of law that we support what INDECOM wants, within the law, of course, [and] within the bounds of their own Act and other legislation that exist, but the results of those quite often lead to us being exonerated for matters independently, and I think that's the important part of things.

“I think the public benefits from this independence [of INDECOM], and we do also. So largely, our relationship with the team at INDECOM is really good,” said Anderson.


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