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RSVGPF to conduct criminal interviews with aid of video cameras

RSVGPF to conduct criminal interviews with aid of video cameras

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In an effort to combat claims of police statements being obtained under oppression or inducement, the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, in collaboration with the Government, will soon be interviewing suspects of serious crimes with the aid of video cameras.{{more}}

This was revealed on Monday, March 5, at a press briefing at the Police Conference room.

Over the next two weeks, 24 police officers from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Financial Intelligence and Rapid Response Units will undergo training in the use of the video recording equipment to record statements from suspects of serious crimes.

Addressing the media, Commissioner of Police, Keith Miller said over the years, the local constabulary has been experiencing some problems in respect of the conditions under which statements are given.

“There are instances where the court required a voir dire because of certain allegations. With the availability of this new piece of equipment, the jury will be able to see what took place in the interview room when suspects are being interviewed,” Miller said.

According to Miller, when statements are given in the absence of recordings, the degree of weight that is given to the statement must be treated with caution and care.

“Now we will be having the interviews being replayed so that jurors will have a better understanding of what took place. This, I believe, will make the police force more credible and it will make our investigators more professional,” he said.

Miller also mentioned plans to establish a forensic lab, which will be able to retrieve data from laptops. He said newly promoted Corporal Emel Jacobs of the CID will be charged with that responsibility.

Work is also being done with the Ministry of Telecommunications and the Attorney General’s office to set up a cyber unit soon.

Dan Suter, of the British High Commission and criminal justice advisor to the Eastern Caribbean on behalf of the US Embassy in Barbados, disclosed that this country is the first in the Caribbean jurisdiction to have such equipment.

Suter commended the police and government for their foresight in acquiring the equipment that is being used.

“This is a historic day in SVG and will revolutionize the criminal justice system.

According to Suter, the initiative is the peak of a long-standing project, which has been running for close to four years.

“…There are many challenges in relation to confessions and the camera doesn’t lie. This technology will establish the integrity of the police and protect human rights in relation to suspects,” Suter noted.

Meanwhile, Director of Public Prosecutions Colin Williams said the issue of admissibility of confessions has always been a subject that has occupied them.

The DPP made reference to a High Court case a few weeks ago where a man was freed after the judge ruled that the statement police obtained from him was inadmissible, because it was obtained under oppression.

He said, while he has no doubt in his mind the confession per se might have been obtained voluntarily, there were certain surrounding circumstances which would have impinged upon the admissibility of that confession.

However, the DPP said they hope to move to a stage where, based on the exercises and training the officers will receive, they can confront those challenges in a more direct and concrete way.

“…We can confront these challenges where confessions, which are indeed voluntary and confessions that are not affected by any touch of oppression or inducement, can indeed be admitted. We are moving from an old era where we relied on the writing and recollection of statements to now a more scientific era,” Williams said.

Williams said the police force will be modernising not just the force, but the legal and criminal justice system.

The Bill for the project is currently before parliament and a meeting was held yesterday with a select committee to look at that Bill.

The training is being facilitated by advisors John Bailey and Dave Cater, ex-British motor squad detectives.

(KW)

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