Statement by Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony at the formal opening of the Southern Police Headquarters
Many of you here this evening, must discern a quiet but obvious satisfaction emanating from the Parliamentary Representative for Vieux-Fort South. I confirm your observation for two reasons.
Firstly, I am relieved that the police officers no longer have to endure the inhumane and uncivilized conditions at the former building in Vieux-Fort. Their emancipation is my satisfaction. I know that some were approached to engage in protest action over the delayed opening of this facility, but it is to their credit that such behaviour was resisted. I thank you for your patience. Several years ago, I promised you a new building and yes, I have delivered.
Secondly, this building has character and architectural presence. Undoubtedly, imperfections and design faults will be discovered but there can be no doubt that this is a building which establishes its presence and makes a statement to our community. It enhances the growing sophistication of our town and community. So, ladies and gentlemen, forgive me if I am a little effusive. It is only to announce that I am extremely proud and happy to be part of this important event.
A FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION
Pleasure, however, can be only momentary. Other more serious issues come, without invitation, to the agenda. This time, it is the burning issue of crime.
Of the several questions that I am asked, the most frequent is about crime.
This evening I shall bore you, by answering once again, that frequently asked question, what is the Government doing about crime? I shall review the initiatives of the Government and conclude by addressing two issues, firstly, the reforms to the Firearms Act and secondly, the impact of the location of the Police Station on the community of Vieux-Fort.
From the outset, the Government understood that the Police Force had to be reformed and repositioned. Modernization of the operational management of the Force is necessary if the Police are to confront crime and defeat the growing sophistication of crime. A Police Reform project aimed at repositioning the Royal St. Lucia Police Force commenced in September 2000. The Reform Programme of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force followed a Strategic Review which was conducted by a team of British Experts, who were invited by Government to undertake this project. The lead consultant, Mr. Michael Taylor, along with Mr. John Crutchlow, spearheaded the Reform Programme, with significant local input and support from middle and senior management of the Police Force.
The aim of the Reform Programme was to achieve a well managed Police Service under clear leadership and direction, and importantly, focused, on improving its service delivery, and operational performance. Activities were effected to facilitate the full implementation and restructuring of police personnel, operating systems, processes and activities.
The Reform Programme identified seven major programmes and areas of emphasis:
(1) Community Policing
(3) Corporate Support Functions
(4) Corporate Administration
(5) Operations and Crime Prevention
(6) Legislative Review
(7) Training in Operational Policing, Investigation and Detection Skills and Scenes of Crime Work.
During the Review Process which prepared the way for the Police Reform Project, a number of disturbing issues surfaced which were of great concern to the Government. For example, police officers of all ranks around the island were found to be operating under unacceptable and degrading conditions. As a result, Government had to take urgent remedial action to alleviate these pressing problems at Police Stations islandwide.
In several instances, it was recognised that the physical structure of police stations could not be restored simply by refurbishing the buildings. Decades of neglect had taken their toll. Government, therefore, had to allocate resources to building new police stations in those cases.
The Vieux-Fort Police Station as you well know, was one of those cases. Total expenditure for this new Police Station and Divisional Headquarters was approximately $6,281,575. A new Police station was also constructed in Marchand in January 2001, at a cost of $1,766,467 and in Anse-La-Raye in 2003 at a cost of $1,182,989. Three other Police Stations are also at varying phases of design and construction in Dennery, Micoud, and Bexon. Dennery and Micoud Police Stations are estimated to cost $1,824,806 and $2,015,516 respectively.
In addition, between August 2001 and July 2003, four other Police Stations were refurbished in Choiseul ($882,554), Marigot ($631,494), Laborie ($882,554) and Canaries ($568,195). The total cost of the refurbishments was $3,017,551.
In order to establish a desirable and acceptable level of efficiency and effectiveness in the operations of the Police Service, the Government decided to increase the manpower of the force.
INCREASE IN MANPOWER
Between 1997 and September this year, a total of three hundred and fifty new officers would have been recruited, and trained at a total cost of $403,472.00.
In addition, plans are in train to advertise for new applicants to facilitate the recruitment of an additional forty Police Officers before the end of this year.
On assumption of Government into office in 1997, the total recurrent expenditure for the Police Force was ($21,054, 313). This financial year (2004/2005), the amount was increased by approximately (thirteen million) dollars or (62%) to a total of ($34,019,204). Personal Emoluments and allowances represent an average (82%) or $24,359.000 of total recurrent expenditure.
Additional vehicles, equipment and training, were also provided.
PROCUREMENT OF POLICE VEHICLES
Between 2001 and 2004, twenty-six police vehicles were purchased. In addition, the Government of Korea donated sixteen new vehicles to the Police Force. In effect, then, this Government has made available forty two (42) new vehicles to the Police Force between 2001 and 2004.
In this area, much has been done over the past seven years and much more must be done. It is important to note, that whilst Government can provide new Police Stations, increase manpower, vehicles, equipment, train Police Officers and increase the recurrent and expenditure annually, we cannot achieve the desired level of efficiency and effectiveness based on these variables only.
Importantly, attitude to work, management of the operations of Police Stations islandwide and individual Units at the Police Headquarters by Supervisory/Middle and top management must form part of the equation, if the desired results are to be achieved. Coupled with this factor, is the critical need for Police Officers at all levels from the rank of Constable, to top management to conduct their responsibilities with dignity and integrity. These are the hallmarks for Public Confidence. Public Confidence in turn fosters trust and facilitates collaboration, support, goodwill and a sound working relationship between the Police and the public.
REORIENTATION IN TRAINING
A fundamental weakness of our Police Force was crime detection. Detection rates were abysmal. Consequently, it became necessary to re-orientate the Training of Police Officers to emphasize Crime Prevention, Detection and Community Policing. To this end, in July of 2000, an advanced training programme was conducted for thirty Police Officers in the area of Crime Scene Management . This Programme was facilitated by three professional experts from Canada, provided as technical assistance by the Government of Canada: Some of the key courses covered in that Programme included: -
(1) Forensic Science
(2) Crime Scene Protocols for DNA Evidence
(3) Special Consideration for Sexual Assault Evidence
(4) Search, Seizure and Law Procedures
(5) Criminal Profiling; and Homicide
I am pleased to tell you that detection rates are improving steadily. However, it is one thing to detect crimes, but a totally different thing to win cases in Court. We understood, therefore, that we had to strengthen the investigative and prosecutorial process.
STRENGTHENING OF INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION
In May 2000, the Director of Public Prosecution conducted a seminar for Senior Police Officers which included Police Prosecutors and their Supervisors. This Programme was conducted in an effort to further strengthen the investigative and prosecutorial process engaged by Police investigators and prosecutors. Some key areas covered included: -
(1) Marking of Exhibits
(2) Circumstantial and Direct Evidence
(3) The conduct of investigations.
(4) Supervision of the investigative process.
(5) The role of Forensics
(6) Crime Scene Management
(7) Crime Scene Strategies
At the invitation of the Government, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, conducted a training program for members of the Force in 2002, in the handling of evidence and scenes of crime management. Their recommendations have led to changes in the approach to crime detection and prosecution. We are beginning to see the results of these efforts.
But the Government has decided to go one step further. Cabinet has agreed to establish a fully fledged Crown Prosecution Service under the jurisdiction of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Crown Prosecution Service will operate in two (2) units. The main unit will be located in the First Judicial District of Castries, while the second will be located in the Judicial District of Vieux-Fort. The Crown Prosecution Service will be implemented in three (3) phases.
The first phase has been timed between October 1st, 2004 and March 31st, 2005 and will comprise:
(1) an increase in the number of Crown Counsels at the First Judicial District from two (2) to four (4).
(2) The assignment of all Police Prosecutors in the First Judicial District to the Crown Prosecutors Service.
(3) The appointment and financing of:
(a) two (2) Secretaries
(b) two (2) clerk/Typists
(c) two (2) Process Servers
(d) one (1) Clerk
(e) one (1) Receptionist
The second phase commences in April 2005 and will see the creation and financing of the following:
(1) (a) one (1) Office Administrator
(b) an increase in Crown Counsels from 4 – 6
(c) an Information Technology Unit
(d) a Law Library
(2) the establishment of a Branch in the Second Judicial District and the appointment of two (2) Crown Counsels.
In the third phase, we will see an increase in the complement of Crown Counsels from six (6) to eight (8), made up as follows:
(a) six (6) Crown Counsels in the First Judicial District; and
(b) two (2) Crown Counsels in the Second Judicial District.
INTRODUCTION OF BEACH RANGERS AND RAPID RESPONSE UNIT
You will recall that in a bid to respond to crime in our tourism communities, the Government introduced beach rangers to patrol our beaches and to protect both citizens and visitors. Since their introduction, a noticeable reduction in harassment of tourists and locals on our beaches has been recorded. Earlier this year, this Unit was transferred to the Police Department.
In addition to the Beach Rangers, the Government also created the Rapid Response Unit manned by former Police Officers and Special Constables, to assist in strengthening the police response in our tourism - based communities. Units operate in Castries, Gros-Islet and Vieux-Fort. New vehicles were also provided for the Units.
The Beach Rangers and the Rapid Response Units were placed under the direct command of the Police Department to provide an organizational and administrative structure which would in theory enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of these Units.
The Rangers and Rapid Response Units are expected to maintain a highly visible and effective Patrol component, which responds to the needs of the community and the Tourist Industry in St. Lucia.
Since the transfer of these units to the Police Department, the work schedules and structure of both units have been revised, so that the units can deliver an efficient and cost effective service to the Public, as well as to allow for greater accountability and professionalism at all times.
Status Reports on the operations of these units indicate that officers have been performing remarkably well, and a corresponding decrease has been recorded for crimes relating to tourists harassment in both the North and South of the Island.
NEW LEGAL REGIME
Crime must be fought on every front, in the community, in the courts, and with new legislation. Parliament has enacted a new Criminal Code and a new Evidence Act. Both will come into effect in January 2005. The new Evidence Act requires adjustments but it will allow for the admissibility of evidence refined by new technology. The new Forensic Laboratory will provide additional support. Every loophole must be blocked.
In 2003, Parliament enacted a new Firearms Act. That Act makes provisions relating to the carrying and the use of firearms and ammunition. Despite the fact that Parliament increased the fines for possession of illegal firearms, I believe that Parliament was “too soft”. For example, a person who is in possession or control of a restricted firearm is liable:
(i) on summary conviction, to a fine of not less than ten thousand dollars or imprisonment for a term of not less than five years;
(ii) On conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years.
These sentences are too light, especially in the hands of pliable judicial officers. I believe the fines and terms of imprisonment should be increased substantially. I propose to invite Parliament to do so.
In a bid to reduce the number of firearms in the country, a reward of EC$1,500.00 is offered to those who assist the police to recover firearms. I propose, as of today, to increase that amount to $2,500.00. We must rid the streets of illegal firearms.
A new Police Service Act will soon appear on our statute books. The existing Act, which was designed to satisfy the requirements of the colonial regime must now give way to the requirements of our Constitution.
The Act will be supported by New Police Promotions Regulations, and will soon be promulgated.
The Promotion Policy is based on the following principles -a fair, consistent and objective selection process, a clear and transparent selection criteria; the uniform application without exception, of the selection criteria, the equal opportunity for all officers regardless of age, sex, religion or marital status. The promotion policy seeks to identify the most competent officers to fill posts at higher ranks and to provide opportunities for all officers to advance their careers in accordance with available positions and their abilities.
Public confidence is directly proportional to the perception of how the Police Force treats its internal disciplinary matters. The lack of confidence by the public in the police results in the unreporting of serious crimes, frustration, vigilantes, fear and distrust.
To address the problems of police integrity and professionalism Government enacted the Police Complaints Act, No. 6 of 2003. The Act provides for the establishment of a Police Complaints Commission which consist of five members appointed by the Minister with responsibility for the Police. The Commission will receive complaints on the conduct of any police officer, monitor the investigation of a complaint by the Complaints Unit, so as to ensure that the investigation is conducted impartially, report to the Minister from time to time; or at his request and review reports from the Complaints Unit. This new Unit commenced operations on August 10, 2004.
IMPACT OF DIVISIONAL HEADQUARTERS
Mr. Chairman, I am told that the sign at the entrance of the police station may say “Vieux-Fort Police Station” but that the station does not belong to Vieux-Fort but the Southern Division. In my view, a better way to put it is as follows:
“Vieux-Fort is happy to provide a home to the
The Police Officers assigned to the Vieux-Fort Divisional Headquarters are, like all other officers islandwide, involved in the Reform Process and benefit from all the initiatives highlighted earlier.
The Vieux-Fort Divisional Headquarters is responsible for co-ordinating activities, plans, policies, personnel management and deployment among all Stations within that Division. This includes the Soufriere, Choiseul, Laborie, Vieux-Fort and Micoud Police Stations; as well as other Units attached to this Division -: the Drug Unit, the Police Marine Unit, the Immigration Department and the Special Branch. Hopefully, on completion of the training of the present cohort of recruits, a contingent of the Special Services Unit, will be established in Vieux-Fort, as announced earlier this year.
Currently, the total complement of Police Officers at the Vieux-Fort Police Station is sixty-seven. The Vieux-Fort Police Station and Divisional Headquarters is headed by a Superintendent, assisted by an Assistant Superintendent, two Inspectors, four Sergeants and six Corporals. These Officers are supported by forty-eight male Police Constables and five women Police Constables.
These Officers have been exposed to specialized training such as – Crime Scene Management, Prosecution, Criminal Investigations, Community Policing and Special Services.
Mr. Minister, Mr. Commissioner, the people of Vieux-Fort have one powerful reservation about the location of this police station. They fear that the police will abandon the streets of “downtown”, Vieux-Fort, now that they occupy, these salubrious and palatial surroundings. I share their concerns and fears.
I have repeatedly advised that the battle against crime will be won on the streets. Our police officers must be visible to criminals and law abiding citizens alike. We can only take back our communities from the criminals if police officers are seen , in the communities, among residents. Occasional patrols by vehicles cannot and must not replace “beat patrols” I want to see our police officers on the streets among citizens. I want to see senior officers with them, calling on them to account, sharing the daily challenges with them, offering advice and guidance. Crime cannot be fought behind desks. It has to be fought on the streets.
So, Mr. Commissioner, I want a system of patrols in downtown Vieux-Fort to reassure my constituents.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, you maybe asking yourselves why have you and your communities not benefited much more from all of this? Why have you not been more directly and positively affected by all of these new and additional resources and initiatives? I am reminded of the popular saying,
“Money does not manage itself” and may I add, neither do employees, vehicles, furniture and equipment.
I therefore take this opportunity to once again, exhort our Police Officers at all ranks to utilize the resources made available to them, whether it be training, vehicles, equipment or any other to the benefit of the general public whom they serve. I wish also to commend those officers who dutifully conduct their functions with dignity and integrity and have done much, given their conditions under which they worked for several years.
I thank you.
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