Senior cop wants witness protection laws

One of the island’s most senior law enforcement officials is calling for witness protection legislation and the establishment of safe houses to prevent accused criminals from tampering with witnesses.

Acting Commissioner of Police Oral Williams this morning told the opening of the first annual conference and workshop of the Department of Public Prosecutions at the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa in Christ Church that there were instances where people were seeking to influence cases by threatening or harming potential witnesses and law enforcement and judicial officials.

And the time had come, he said, for the authorities to act to protect vulnerable witnesses and the integrity of the process.

“I believe the system has not addressed this and similar areas, given what has been happening and is likely to continue. And I am referring to the enactment of appropriate legislation to deal with persons who directly or indirectly seek to influence witnesses, potential witnesses, law enforcement officers or court officials by way of threats or injury,” he said.

Williams said while there were Barbadians still willing to tell the police what they hear and see, many were reluctant to provide written statements or to testify in court, a suggestion that they feared repercussions.

“This needs to be remedied with serious administrative and criminal sanctions to follow. Any programme that is put in place must go beyond the disposal of the case. It is my belief that there is a case for witness protection legislation in Barbados and in, or for appropriate cases, the provision for safe houses with appropriate rules and regulations in place,” the Acting Commissioner of Police recommended.

Williams was reinforcing the views expressed earlier at the same event by Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson who admitted that lawmen were several steps behind the criminals.

“We really need to up our game because the criminals are ahead of us. We have all the different things to do during the day . . . they have 24 hours to sit down and try to circumvent everything that we are trying to do,” Sir Marston said, while addressing the theme, Strengthening Our Capacity To Combat Cybercrimes And Other Organized Crimes.

With a strong focus on the use of technology to commit crimes, the lawmen acknowledged the need to strengthen capacity of all the institutions and agencies involved in fighting crime.

Similar sentiments were expressed by United States Ambassador to Barbados Linda Taglialatela, who suggested that the criminal justice system must respond and adapt to contemporary issues such as cybercrime, terrorism and drug trafficking.

“These areas have one commonality which can be used to aid not only investigators, but also the entire judiciary in combating these crimes. That commonality is digital forensics. We hope that with the recent opening of the Regional Security System digital forensics lab, more cases from Barbados and the Caribbean will be prosecuted and assets recovered,” the US diplomat said.

11 Responses to Senior cop wants witness protection laws

  1. Epaphras D. Williams
    Epaphras D. Williams October 31, 2017 at 1:10 am

    What took you guys so long?

    Reply
  2. Taurus Bull
    Taurus Bull October 31, 2017 at 1:27 am

    Barbados is very small and that is all I would say!!

    Reply
  3. Sue Donym October 31, 2017 at 5:49 am

    We have a lot more than laws to examine when a screen shot from a computer carrying the Commissioner of Police’s statement can be circulated during an active investigation.

    Nothing wrong with updating or introducing legislation, but we must be commited to ethics and integrity at all levels. Indeed, if we’re saying that criminals are better organised and functioning more effectively, protection will have to extend, not only until trial, but after conviction. Maybe CARICOM will have a place, not in rehoming the witnesses, but in resiting the criminals.

    Reply
  4. Alex Alleyne October 31, 2017 at 6:17 am

    BIM full of a bunch of “LICK MOUTS”. I rest my case……..

    Reply
  5. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn October 31, 2017 at 7:20 am

    What you all waiting for. That should done be in place already.

    Reply
  6. hcalndre October 31, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Barbados is one lil copy cat. They hear of larger and bigger countries do things and they wants to copy knowing very well it can`t and would not work in Barbados. Barbados is like a one-roof house, where can you have a safe house? you know that person will have to be taken care of financially to support their family and sometimes a new identity, it will be safer to put them in jail too. Parole, with the restrictions that have to be followed, parole officers have to be hired, the parolee must not be seen with known criminals, off the streets by a certain time if they have a job that will be taken into account, be tested for drug use at any time. There`s talk about fly-overs, plenty of homes in Barbados have television and I`m sure when the traffic news are showing from the US they do show the traffic on the flyovers and tell me where in barbados these flyovers going to be erected.

    Reply
    • Belfast October 31, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      How about a Ministerial Flyover from Bridgetown to Six Roads to accommodate the many cabinet ministers who live in that parish.They will not have to undergo the temporary inconvenience of rubbing fenders and bumpers with the hog and goat public.

      Reply
  7. Helicopter(8P) October 31, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Now the witness will be safe but uncles aunts and brothers, sisters as well will be looking over their shoulders at every gig. It’s not such an easy thing to put in place due to demographics and density of population per square mile.

    Reply
  8. Belfast October 31, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I got married in District A court some years ago. I looked around a did not see a single person I knew and the same went for my wife. Before I got home, a call was made to a member of my family who was a prominent member of the society and a politician to boot.
    Yes, Barbados is a very small place.

    Reply
  9. Vad51 October 31, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    I strongly agree that witnesses have to be protected; but it must be done within the confines of our current system; therefore I agree with the individual who stated that we have to hire parole officers and they must be trained properly. When the individuals are released from jail, they have to return to their family in the same communities.
    With parole officers they will be monitored to ensure that they are obeying the terms of their parole, or go back to jail. Also, proper programs must be implemented in the system to train individuals who are incarcerated, to insure that they do not continue to participate in illegal activities when they are released. Which business person is willing to give a job to someone who served time in the system; and wish to start to rebuild their lives?
    Lots need to be done in for individuals who have been incarcerated in B’dos and it is not just government who has to shoulder the responsibility; others need to help. People who are released from jail need help in finding jobs and rebuild their lives.

    Reply
  10. Loretta Griffith October 31, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    Regarding the alleged assault of the Commissioner, were these men in the U.S.A they would not be here to assault another person.
    I now see why the U.S. Police is so proactive. Shoot and then ask questions. Too many idiots are out there looking for trouble and supposedly flexing their so-called might or power.
    Sorry, but I am all for FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE. These are not days to treat alleged criminals with kid gloves. Yes I agree we all should be proactive instead of being reactive.
    I hope this is the last time we hear of such behaviour.
    This is why leaders should LEAD and not be LED.
    .

    Reply

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