PCA up the wall
The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) is upset with the Commissioner of Police, suggesting that failure to investigate allegations against his officers in a timely manner, is frustrating the work of the tribunal.
In its annual report for 2012, just laid in the House of Assembly, the authority said it “continues to be dissatisfied with the lack of response to its requests for matters to be investigated by the Commissioner of Police”. In fact, the report revealed some startling statistics which gave credence to the PCA’s concern regarding the “lack” of response from the top cop.
“During the year 2012, replies were received from the Commissioner of Police with respect to 21 complaints, which were referred to his department for investigation. Of the replies received, one dated back to a complaint filed in 2005; one to a complaint filed in 2007; one to a complaint filed in 2008; seven to complaints filed in 2009; one to a complaint filed in 2010; and three with respect to complaints filed in 2011,” the seven-member
The authority lamented that in spite of meetings with both the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General with a view to improving the situation, there had been none.
“The time between when a complaint is made to the authority and when the matter is resolved is far too long,” insisted the tribunal, which was established by an Act of Parliament. It said that sometimes a response was not received for over two years, and generally, the reply was simply that the matter was investigated by a senior officer and no wrongdoing was found.”
The PCA noted that the act provided for it to deal with complaints directly.
“However, the procedure set out in the act, requires that generally, it is the duty of the police to carry out the initial investigation and then have the findings communicated to the authority. The failure of the police to carry out the investigations adversely affects the works of the authority,” complained the body.
It pointed out that frequent complaints made were of unprofessional conduct, as well as the abuse of power by police officers when dealing with members of the public.
“The present system with its delays and lack of action can only cause frustration to complainants. The authority recognized that many complaints concern matters which are not of a very serious nature; and which are well suited to be disposed of summarily.
“The authority should be able, without having to rely on the police, to investigate less serious matters; to summon the parties and their witnesses, take evidence and bring an end to the matter in a reasonable time,” the PCA added.
Chairman of the authority, retired High Court judge Leroy Inniss, said in the annual report that it had recommended the legislation be amended to permit the tribunal to deal summarily with these cases.
Chairman Inniss suggested that this would have the effect of disposing of matters without delay and thus ensuring greater satisfaction of the public. He disclosed that the authority had set up a committee to review the act, to make recommendations considered necessary.