Thu | Jul 19, 2018

What is preventative detention?

Published:Thursday | February 9, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Jane* is at home. She is in a quarrel with her boyfriend and he is threatening her. He lifts his hand to hit her and she runs away and calls the police.

A police officer responds to the scene, gets a report, and satisfies himself that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence - perhaps assault occasioning bodily harm - is about to be committed.

Jane's boyfriend is taken into custody for 24 hours in the first instance as a "cooling-off period".

Importantly, Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte says that the police must have reasonable grounds to believe that an individual is likely to commit an offence and that there must be fair procedures. "It allows for the necessary cooling off," Malahoo Forte reasoned.

If there is cause to detain an individual for more than 24 hours, the police are required to utilise an out-of-court mechanism and take the person before a justice of the peace for an order authorising a longer period of detention.

At this stage, the detainee has the opportunity to ask for his/her release with, or without, condition.

A form is being created that will allow the police to capture details about the detainees such as the name of the spouse, partner, family member, religious counsellor, and a medical practitioner.

They are allowed to communicate with these individuals, and the police must facilitate this and write down the name of the detainee.

*Fictional name