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Nov 25, 2014

Attorney General Comments on Office of D.P.P.

Cheryl-Lynn Vidal

Last week, News Five broke the story of a memo from Assistant Commissioner of Police Russell Blackett to all formation commanders. In that memo, dated September twenty-fourth, Blackett directs that all consultations with the D.P.P. on murder or any other charges are to cease immediately. Traditionally, police consult with the D.P.P.’s office on investigations into murder or other serious crimes. Also traditionally, the Police Department blames the D.P.P. for delays in charging and failures to convict, while the D.P.P.’s office has often pointed to negligent and sub-par Police investigation. So who’s right and who’s wrong? It’s a valid question, and we don’t have the answers. But on September nineteenth Prime Minister Dean Barrow went on national television to state that the practice of consulting with the D.P.P. before laying charges makes absolutely no sense. His words were heard and heeded. Attorney-General Wilfred Elrington says those words, and the actions which followed, are perfectly in order.

 

Wilfred Elrington, Attorney-General

Wilfred Elrington

“At a last press conference that I heard, the police were using the excuse of them having to consult the D.P.P. for their delay in taking certain actions and the prime minister commented on it and I heard the prime minister say to them that it was not necessary for them to go to the D.P.P. for instructions before they acted. And that is quite proper you know; it is not necessary for the police to get instructions from the D.P.P. to take action; that is not necessary that is not the law and maybe that is not undesirable. What the police should do when they have evidence that a crime has been committed is do the investigation, investigate it thoroughly and if they are satisfied that the offense has been committed then they should charge the person. Once they have charged the person and it is an indictable offence which needs to be tried in the Supreme Court, the file ultimately must go to the D.P.P. because it is the Director of Public Prosecution’s office who marshals prosecution in the Supreme Court. So really and truly, the responsibility of the D.P.P. is to marshal the prosecution. They perform in the court; they bring the case against the person in court; they are the ones who do the work in the court to try to get a conviction. But it is not the responsibility of the D.P.P. to give instructions with respect to arrests and charge. That is the responsibility of the police. It is always good for there to be a cordial relationship between the two branches because the D.P.P. if, after receiving a file, decides that more investigation needs to be done on this file to ensure a conviction, they have got to refer to the police and the police have got to do the work. So to that extent they work together. But only to that extent; it is not their responsibility, however, to seek permission from the D.P.P. to charge anybody.”

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