Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Daniel Thwaites | Lock-up cock-up

Published:Sunday | February 19, 2017 | 2:00 AM

What a strange way to let the public know that the great Pearnel Charles has completely lost his hearing! Because if he were ever to hear about his 'preventative detention' nonsense, no, sah, he would not stand for it!

But that was the crime plan? Preventative detention? That what the DPP says is nothing novel and no big sinting, "merely descriptive of what powers the common law has always provided for a constable ...".

If so, that was an unusually elaborate press conference for a big fat juicy nothing burger, served with pickled Ian Boyne on the side!

But actually, I don't think so. As 'craven' as the administration is for the PR selfie, this crime thing is biting hard, so they want more than just the appearance of 'doing something'. I think they were giving the idea of using preventative detention as the cornerstone of a wider crime-fighting strategy a debut. Give it a twirl around the block and test it out.

Furthermore, I suspect that the business of couching it in the context of domestic and sexual abuse was to give it automatic legitimacy, because who could possibly come out against protecting victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, small children, God, and kittens? You evil bastards!

So the exposition was stilted and disjointed, because we were being told, contradictorily, that this was the new BIG thing, but also that everything is perfectly normal and in order and there's nothing new here.

Mind you, I'm certain the police got the message: "Do yuh ting!" Which also means that evolving the force into an information-driven and investigative organisation has been put on pause.

Actually, listening to the attorney general, my mind went to those staples of comedy where pranksters talk

gibberish to an unsuspecting listener so as to cause confusion. Basically, the spoof works because the prankster obeys basic syntactical and grammatical rules of speakers trying to communicate meaningfully, but really they have a different agenda: causing mayhem for the laughs.

You see, although I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, I manage, and if something isn't making sense to me, there's a more than fair possibility that confusion was in the design.

Malahoo Forte seemed to be balancing on a high-wire fishing line. On the one hand was the claim that nothing new was being announced, but 'zero tolerance'. On the other, flanked by senior law-enforcement personnel and having just emerged from a day of deep reflection on the crime problem, every other signal was that this was the launch of something new.

So which is it? Is there nothing new here, so we and our nosey selves may as well just shuffle along? Or is this an important brand new crime-fighting thrust and the announcement of the next big thing that's supposed to help with the runaway murder rate?

Let's cut to the heart of it. If the attorney general was seriously announcing a major policy shift or focus, it should have been laid out with more rigour, explained with more clarity, buttressed by facts.

 

Competence needed

 

What we need is some preventative competence, not gesturing and posturing recycled and dressed up as 'action'.

Speaking of 'dressing up', and because I'm in danger of lapsing into seriousness, let us call to mind the wayward parson who has dressed up himself as the chief cheerleader of this nonsense. I had initially surmised that Boyne's email account had been hacked, and that's how some injudicious glad-handing had made its way into the papers over his byline. It now turns out that he has gone all in and is fully supporting this 'policy'. So it wasn't a hacker, just a hack.

OK! Parson Boyne, in cheerleader outfit and Dudus wig, should be the first person preventatively detained under the police power grab he supports. If he's brought before a JP, the rationale for permanent detention will be to obstruct and deter any further crimes against logic and good sense.

And yet with all that I understand how the parson became confused. You see, parson work is different from government work, and it can lead to 'confuddlement'.

I mean, if Parson notices that Deacon Daniel is first in line to volunteer for choirmaster duties, he won't be suspicious. But then he sees Sister Judy emerging from Deacon Daniel's yard at some bad-bad 3:30 in the morning, rearranging her head wrap.

Fearing that sumting chikini in the bikini, Parson enquires of Sister Judy what songs she is preparing for the solo part of the fundraising concert, and why she has to be practising so much? So, eyes closed in spiritual ecstasy, she slowly lists the hymns and spirituals with alarming intensity:

He Touched Me,

How Firm a Foundation,

Rise Up, Oh Men of God,

Hold to the Rod,

Sweet is the Work

Oh Come All Ye Faithful

Parson gasps: "But what is dis doh, eeh?"

Parson needs to call Sister Judy one-side and let her know she's preventatively removed from the fundraising committee and detained from any more choir practice. Plus, Deacon will get a permanent restraining order to stop training the choir sisters.

No doubt, high crime, felonies, and misdemeanours were committed, and no doubt further mayhem is imminent. So he must act preventatively, right away. That's how the Church's justice system works.

Government is different. There you have to initiate further investigation, seek a warrant to tap Deacon Daniel's phone, put a tracer on Sister Judy's movements, and interview traumatised witnesses before concluding that serious crimes and maybe even many quick minor offences were being committed daily.

Seriously, though, the mere fact that we're having this conversation at this time is the surest evidence that our goose is cooked. The administration still has no real plan. The Government needs help, and my simple suggestion is that it eases up on the public relations blitzes and turns to strategies that have worked, and learns from places where they have worked. That's a better plan than sprucing up failed strategies of the past.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.