INDECOM barred! - Oversight body says senior officers prevent it from inspecting lock-ups
The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) says that during its investigation of police lock-ups at three stations earlier this year, an officer of the force recommended that the oversight body launch a probe into what he saw as the habit of police personnel placing persons in custody for several hours without charge and later releasing them.
Earlier this year, representatives from INDECOM visited and examined police lock-ups in at least three parishes.
The Commission of Parliament identified Denham Town, Spanish Town, Barnett Street, Mandeville, and Morant Bay lock-ups for examination.
However, INDECOM stated in its quarterly report for July to September that the superintendents in charge at Spanish Town and Morant Bay refused to allow its investigators to examine their facilities and records despite its team obtaining warrants to carry out inspections.
At Denham Town, prisoners complained to INDECOM that they were not getting medical checks or follow-up treatment. The police indicated that this was the result of resource constraints.
Inmates also complained bitterly about 'scabies-like' infestation at the lock-up. Scabies is said to be an infestation of mites that 'set up shop' under layers of the skin, causing rashes and intense itching, especially at nights. It is spread through close contact.
Another inmate was seen shivering and told investigators that he suffered from high blood pressure. He said that the police's attempt to get medication proved futile as it was not in stock at the time. Family members were subsequently contacted to deal with the prescription issue.
The conditions of the facility at the Barnett Street Police Station were found wanting in relation to sanitation, accommodation capacity, and lighting, according to INDECOM. The lock-up housed 68 inmates.
At the Mandeville Police Station, overcrowding was a problem, with 92 persons being held in areas designed for 63 inmates.
INDECOM says that since its inception in 2010, it has investigated 85 cases of deaths while in detention. Despite these numbers, INDECOM says that there is a perception that detention abuses are under-reported. This perception, according to INDECOM, was confirmed by the station inspection conducted in its investigation.