Chief Justice counting on JCF station records digitisation project
SYKES... if the project embarked upon by the police commissioner is successful, then all of this will not be necessary in the future (Photo:Naphtali Junior)

Chief Justice Bryan Sykes is counting on the station records and case management system being implemented in police stations to eliminate paper-based data collection to prevent hiccups like the one on Tuesday that forced another adjournment of the Klansman gang trial.

Several defence attorneys involved in the matter had, on June 23, 2022, indicated to the court that they would be requiring subpoenas for the custody diaries and admission books from the correctional facilities and lock-ups, where their clients had been held, to form part of the evidence in their case. The trial judge, at the time, instructed that the creators of the original records should be identified or, at best, a witness who could speak to the creation and keeping of the records be brought to court.

However, on Monday, when the matter resumed and a senior corrections officer from Horizon Adult Remand Centre took the stand, it became clear that those instructions were not exactly heeded as the senior staff officer, in being led through his evidence in relation to one of the accused, said he supervised the individual who created the records of transfers and admissions.

It was also revealed by the defence that police from the Spanish Town lock-up who had responded to the summons did not have the information requested in relation to at least one accused as the book with his details “cannot be found”.

The court was told that while one book contained a part of the information in relation to the particular accused, the other was “missing”. Furthermore, the two cops from the station who were present for the proceeding merely “accompanied” the books and could not speak to the records, the court was told.

One defence attorney said the books presented Monday did not reflect what she needed for her client.

On Wednesday, when the matter resumed, Justice Sykes, in querying the status of the records, was told that there had been an error on the subpoenas submitted requesting records from the Spanish Town Police Station for three of the accused. While the oversight had been spotted and was corrected, the court was told the requested information would not be presented on the day in question.

Furthermore, the creator of the admission documents for the Horizon facility, the court was told, was not available as expected due to a prior commitment.

Justice Sykes, in adjourning the matter and indicating to attorneys that no excuses will be permitted this Monday when the matter resumes, said in his parting shot, “If the project embarked upon by the police commissioner is successful, in terms of digitising the records, then all of this will not be necessary in the future. So we wish him success there.”

The station records and case management system will see the elimination of the paper-based data collection process to an electronic system. The Ministry of National Security, in a post on its social media pages recently, said old station diaries are currently being digitised through the Legacy Data Digitisation Project and employees are being trained to use the digital system.

It said station diaries dated 2017 to 2020 are currently being scanned into the system with 24,800 pages from 4,324 diaries scanned up to that time.

According to the ministry, the system is geared at improving efficiency, data transfer speed, delivery of police services, and increasing the apprehension and prosecution of criminals.

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter

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