Training for JPs and law enforcement personnel
More law-enforcement personnel and justices of the peace (JPs) are to be trained in legal issues and responsibilities, as the Government seeks to advance the justice reform agenda.
Executive Director of the Legal Aid Council Hugh Faulkner said that the aim is to ensure that the parties fully understand and observe their role in ensuring that incarcerated persons have access to justice.
Among other things, the training will outline and differentiate the functions of JPs from those of attorneys.
"We are indicating to all parties that due process and representation must be afforded to suspects (in custody). With each party (police, JP and attorney) knowing his or her role, we believe that the interest of justice will be better served," he said.
Faulkner noted that the role of the JP was very important, however, there are functions for which an attorney must be made available or else the process of justice will be compromised.
"The police are responsible for informing a suspect that he or she is entitled to an attorney, whether retained privately or through the Legal Aid Council," he pointed out.
"Even though a JP may be present, there are other legal protective mechanisms that a lawyer will ensure are carried out," Faulkner said, such as during the question and answer process and the identification parade.
"The lawyer ensures that the process is carried out in accordance with all the provisions of the law and the applicable guidelines," he stressed.
Faulkner said that if these procedures are not followed, the validity and admissibility of any evidence gathered in the absence of the suspect's attorney can be challenged in court.
More than 130 police personnel and JPs from Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine were trained in 2015 through the community services component of the Citizen Security and Justice Programme.
Among issues addressed were the rights of suspects at the question and answer and identification parade, station or court bail application, child diversion, legal aid for children, court assignments, and cautioned statements.