Call for new police procedures
A lack of files with which to prosecute matters has left the newest magistrate on the Bench upset and calling for new procedures by police.
Magistrate Graveney Bannister said there was no reason why matters from 2009 should be without the relevant documents.
Bannister was speaking in the District “A” Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday after being told that there were no files for a number of cases which were scheduled to be tried or started.
The statement about the lack of files is one which the magistrate has been hearing since he assumed duties last year.Bannister has started not only giving a mention date, at which time pre-trial documents are to be handed over to accused or attorneys, but also setting a date for the start of the trial or preliminary enquiry at the same time.
However, yesterday he noted that “somebody was dropping the ball” when he was told that the prosecution had no file for a 2009 matter.“Why is it that you can’t have a file for this matter?” he asked.
Bannister said part of the problem could be attributed to “one week there is one prosecutor and the next week there is another prosecutor – the left hand is ignorant of what the right hand is doing”.
The magistrate also chastised lawmen for “turning up on the morning of the trial” and handing files to prosecutors, which then caused matters to be adjourned.
“If there is no timely disclosure of files, there will be no trials,” he stressed.
“There might be some matters that are not so complex that the prosecution might be willing to start without a file but these are summary matters. Why is it taking so long, sometimes a year, to get papers?” he asked.
The magistrate then suggested that investigators, who were building files, hand over what statements they have to the prosecution, with a list of what other statements might possibly be added.
That way the file can then make its way through “the channels”.
“This waiting until you get a file should not hold up a case,” he said.
In the past few years, magistrates in the District “A” Magistrates’ Court have been complaining about the lack of files which caused a number of cases to be adjourned. (H-LE)