Jul 11, 2016 News
Letters to the editors have been written about it. Complaints are regularly voiced and posted on social media platforms like Facebook. And the statistics are showing that bribery and misconduct within the Guyana Police Force still remains a problem.
However while a bribe may be solicited or paid, the matter is very seldom reported to the relevant authorities. In a recent interview with Kaieteur News, Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) (Ret.) Justice Cecil Kennard explained why.
According to Kennard, there have been 798 and 352 reports made against members of the Police Force for the years 2015 and 2016 respectfully, including matters coming from the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). The 2016 statistics cover between January and June and they include allegations of corruption.
The (Ret.) Justice posited that there are even more cases of corruption out there, but in many instances members of the public opt not to make or follow up a report against the rank or officer, out of fear of retribution. Because of this, Kennard pointed out, the authority finds itself between a rock and a hard place in sanctioning ranks.
The power of the Authority
Armed with legislative power, the Police Complaints Authority was established by the Act of 1989. Chapter 17:02, Section Two of the Act stipulates that once a complaint has not been deemed “frivolous”, the complaint (against a member of the police force) will be referred to the Commissioner of Police for an investigation and inquiry.
It also states that “The Commissioner shall cause the complaint to be investigated expeditiously under Section Five of the Police (Disciplinary) Act and a copy of the report of the investigating officer referred to in Section Five (Four) of that Act shall be forwarded by the Commissioner, as soon as possible after the report is submitted, to the Authority for his comments.”
The Disciplined Services Commission report had made over 160 recommendations. Included
had been recommendations for the Authority to have its own team of investigators.
According to Kennard, the authority has its own team of four investigators, all with a strong background in Law Enforcement. He also informed this publication that with the advent of a recent police upgrade programme, the authority was likely to get increased staffing.
Kennard pointed out that with these investigators acting on complaints, it negated the need for a referral to the Police Commissioner. However the (Ret.) Justice made it clear that the authority can only do its job if complainants come forward.
Kennard also assuaged concerns about the wording of the legislation, noting that there was no need for a change.
Back in 2013, the ‘I paid a bribe’ website had been set up. Then Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee had touted the website’s effectiveness in weeding out corruption in government agencies and allowing the authorities to investigate.
However, Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud was quoted in sections of the press last year, questioning the effectiveness of the ‘I paid a bribe’ website. He had noted that persons giving a report were not given an option to put in their details including contact details.
He had noted that this hampered authorities doing follow-up investigations.
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