Consider mediation

Professor Henry Fraser and Dr. Trevor Carmichael (File photo)

A former Police Service Commission head is recommending the introduction of mediation and a special ombudsman to resolve conflict within the Royal Barbados Police Force.

Queen’s Counsel Senator Dr. Trevor Carmichael, alluding to current issues involving the leadership of the force and its overall administration, said such mechanisms would lessen the chance of “little matters” becoming big problems.

Speaking in the Upper House during debate on the Police Complaints Authority (Validation) Bill today, the prominent lawyer who served as PSC chairman last year said elements of mediation should be incorporation in all police legislation.

“Let’s not try to cause any division here, the police force is us and we are the police force, … and I am suggesting with all humility that we have to seriously considering introducing the concept of mediation,” he said.

“Indeed, I would go so far as to say we may even consider a police ombudsman, not necessarily dealing with complaints coming about policemen themselves, but acting as a fair arbiter among members of the force themselves and creating that unity which is important for the proper functioning of any organisation.”

“One of the dangers in life is that little matters can become explosive and can become full of melodrama if they are not dealt with at the beginning and one of the ways I suggest of dealing with these matters (is) we need a mediating facility to deal with these matters, to put them in their true perspective and to let us understand that life is really more important than some of the little things that we make too much of.

“I am suggesting that proper mediation system in this country will stem the tides and it will keep matters in check … and possibly keep us on the right path,” he added.

Carmichael said mediation would serve a number of functions, including increasing public confidence in the police and “as regards to disputes and as regards to misunderstandings within the police force itself”.

“And I say this with all sincerity and I say this after very careful and sober reflection and let me assure you that the process of mediation has worldwide respectability … because mediation has been proven to be effective at all levels,” he stated.

“Mediators are trained persons, they are trained to structure discussions between the opposing parties, to reduce conflict, and to allow greater collaboration and to allow greater discussion to come towards a decision which is favorable to all parties, and indeed which is really in the interest of a country as a whole or organisations depending where that mediation is taking place and in respect of what that mediation is taking place.

“Mediation has the advantages of assuring confidentiality in terms of what is said to the mediators and also in terms of the confidences that mediators are expected to keep,” he said, noting that if it failed court action was a recourse. (SC)

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