Mon | Feb 19, 2018

‘No supervision’ - POCA head worries about lack of accountability in the police force

Published:Monday | January 29, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Professor Anthony Harriott

As the search begins for a new police commissioner, one of the island's leading criminologists has warned that a lack of accountability in the Jamaica Constabulary Force is one of the major factors for its lack of success in fighting crime.

Retired University of the West Indies Professor of Criminology, Anthony Harriott, last week charged that the Force is heading to obscurity.

Harriott, who heads the Police Civilian Oversight Authority (PCOA), told The Gleaner that a random selection of cases under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Branch showed 40 per cent of files with nothing more than the initial statement six months later.

"No supervision. There was really no evidence of any supervision from the documents seen. And note my language, because I can anticipate the response of the police force, that there is excellent supervision but it wasn't written down.

"I can hear them say if you inspect the files, it's not written down, but what happens is that the sergeant briefs the investigators every week, and individuals intimidating the witnesses are known. I can guarantee that is what they will say," said Harriott.

He pointed out that information in the head of a police officer who dies in the line of duty is helping no one, and argued that the culture of non-accountability runs wide and deep throughout the Force.

"Nobody holds anybody to account. The superintendent is not held to account by anybody at headquarters. He doesn't hold the supervisors to account, and the supervisor does not hold the operatives to account. Nothing gets done," said Harriott.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com