EDITORIAL – Video questioning a must
The recent meeting of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police here at the Divi Southwinds touched on a number of issues pertinent to the maintenance of law and order and, by extension, to the wider issues of public safety and liberty.
In his feature address, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite provided us with much food for thought. It was a balanced presentation by a policymaker holding responsibility for the police, but who is equally conscious of the need for officers to sustain public confidence in themselves and in the force as an institution. The assurance that he would be seeking to remove all roadblocks to the video recording of interviews of suspects – even if it must to take a “few months” – is welcome.
It is in the wider public interest that this should be done so the perennial complaints that confessions were unlawfully obtained by alleged beatings or other coercive practices may be a thing of the past.
These accusations, which often amount to the word of the suspect against that of police officers, can result in the unfair smearing of the reputation of the hard-working men and women of the force. Yet, wrongdoing, if it exists within the force, must be weeded out.
We support the Attorney General in his quest to deal with this matter head-on, and we hope that, notwithstanding the current economic strictures, the funds for retrofitting the stations will be made available.
This island has a good reputation for its observance of constitutional rights and freedoms, and its reputation as a jurisdiction for any kind of business will hardly be enhanced if such complaints continue to proliferate, even if on investigation they are found to be groundless.
The other major issue on which the Attorney General touched, and which can get large public support, is the policy initiatives being taken to deal with the drugs trade. We applaud his commitment to sending a clear message that criminals will not be allowed to benefit materially from their ill-gotten gains. He is strongly in favour of an “effective assets forfeiture regime”.
This is good policy, for the basis of such nefarious activities is the get-rich-quick approach to life, which is not negated if miscreants are sentenced to imprisonment but can enjoy their ill-gotten fruits on release.
We have for many years promoted a society in which we are our brother’s keeper, but it is painfully clear that countercultural practices have infiltrated our society to the point where our police investigators have to be ahead of the game if we must maintain a nation not overrun by foreign criminal activity.
The problems of deportees and easy travel inter-regionally by those of criminal disposition merited top-of-the-agenda discussion. It is regrettable the Attorney General should have to point to jurisdictions that appeared reluctant to share information on known offenders of one jurisdiction, who were moving around in another for criminal enterprise.
New ways of doing things is not the preserve of those of good intent, but equally of those criminally bent.
As a region we are likely to stand or fall together, and keeping a careful watch on those wrongdoers who are known to travel in pursuance of crime is a must. This region is one geographical unit, and in many respects we are a single cultural entity. The entertainers treat it thus, and so do many of the criminal elements.
The exchange of information among regional police forces ought to be a matter of course, and we commend it as a necessary weapon in the fight against regional crime.