DPP: I'm no avenging angel
Nearly half the cases of suspected criminal conduct by police personnel that were reviewed by the nation's chief prosecutor between April and June this year came back with a recommendation that no charges be laid.
According to statistics released yesterday, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) handed down 56 rulings over the three-month period. In 17 of those rulings, the DPP recommended no criminal or departmental charges for the police personnel involved and suggested only "departmental action" in eight cases.
Criminal action was recommended in 15 of the rulings, while 12 cases were referred to the Coroner's Court.
It was a similar story for the corruption-related cases reviewed by the DPP last year. The statistics show that of the 39 rulings handed down, 13 recommended no criminal charges for police personnel who were investigated, and seven suggested "departmental action."
Criminal charges were recommended in 19 cases.
The rulings were handed down in cases referred by the Bureau of Special Investigations, the Criminal Investigations Branch, the Inspectorate of the Constabulary, the Independent Commission of Investigations, and the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse.
Chief prosecutor Paula Llewellyn, however, bristled at suggestions that the statistics indicate that her office was being soft on cops and defended the integrity of the office.
"It is not our function to be an avenging angel in the society and to have some sort of meter where we say at the end of every quarter we have a quota that we have to meet when it comes to one set of people as opposed to the other," Llewellyn told The Gleaner.
maintain very high ethical standards
"We have, at all times, the obligation to maintain very high ethical standards. If the particular threshold in respect of a reasonable prospect of conviction is not met when you look at the evidentiary material, it is unethical to use extraneous factors ... to come to an adverse decision on whether to prosecute or not to prosecute," she reasoned.
"Our assessment must be and is objective," Llewellyn underscored.
She also insisted that she was "comfortable" with the statistics, which show that in nearly 50 per cent of the cases reviewed by her office during the first quarter of the current financial year, members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) were either exonerated or given a slap on the wrist.
The statistics from the DPP's office also show that there has been no ease in the backlog of cases that have clogged the Home Circuit Court and the rural Circuit Courts.
According to the statistics, 487 cases are to be brought over from the Easter session of the Home Circuit Court to the Michaelmas term, which is set to commence on September 16. A breakdown of these cases shows that 329 are for murder, 62 are for rape, 14 for carnal abuse, 10 for incest, nine for buggery, and seven for sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16.
For the rural Circuit Courts, 632 cases are to be transferred to the new term.