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Authority of the DPP being undermined?

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Fri, Aug 20, 2010

Public concern over the failure by the Police to act on the lawful instructions of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is mounting.{{more}}

Last Friday, August 13, SEARCHLIGHT carried a report that the DPP had instructed the Police to charge police constable Rohan McDowall with the murder of Special Services Unit (SSU) officer, Kingsley John. Up to press time no such action had been taken and the only response we can get on inquiry is that the police are “still investigating”.

This is not the first time that there has been a perceived reluctance by the police to follow the DPP’s instructions. Indeed it is public pressure which supported the DPP’s instructions leading to the arrest and conviction of three police officers last year.

What this amounts to is a virtual undermining of the constitutional authority of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The DPP has the right to institute criminal charges under the provisions of our Constitution. But it seems as though some persons are bent on frustrating his will for their own purposes.

One can well understand the concern by the hierarchy of the police force that their image be preserved and also why they would be reluctant to give the officers in the ranks the impression that they are persecuting one of their own. However the law is the law and must be obeyed by all, including the members of our main law enforcement agency.

The very same “image” that those involved are trying to protect, is itself, being sullied by their action, or lack of it. There is a perception in society that certain elements in our police force are too willing to resort to extreme measures to meet challenges. Worse, there is also a growing sense that whatever their actions, particularly against civilians, the natural response is to try to cover up. This does much damage to the credibility of the Force and police-public relations. Public faith in the justice system suffers as a result.

One can therefore well understand the view held by some, however misplaced, that the police seem to be above the law. If a police officer can be shot and killed and despite the instructions of the DPP, no charges are brought, then what message do we as civilians receive? No one is passing judgement on the guilt or innocence of the officer involved, but let justice take its course.

No one – police officer, government minister, public official, rich or poor, is above the law. Not only must justice be done, but as the old adage says, “it must appear to be done” as well.

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