Sat | Dec 15, 2018

JCF wants power to detain suspected gang members for 14 days without charges

Published:Tuesday | November 20, 2018 | 1:08 PM
File photo

Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer

The police want lawmakers to amend the so-called anti-gang legislation to give them the power to detain suspected gang members for up to 14 days without criminal charges being filed.

However, the proposal caused some unease for lawmakers on the parliamentary committee reviewing the legislation.

The request by the Jamaica Constabulary Force is among several recommendations made today before the joint select committee reviewing the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisation) Act.

"There should be a provision which allows the police to detain a person suspected of committing an offence under the act for a period of seven days without charge and that allows the police to extend this time period by way of court order," Deputy Commissioner Selwyn Hay suggested.

The extension would be for a further seven days, Hay told the joint select committee.

He told lawmakers that investigations of criminal organisations are "complex and intelligence driven."

As a result, Hay, who heads the crime portfolio, said that there is a need to allow investigators sufficient time to interview suspects, "verify leads and confirm intelligence before laying charges.”

In addition, he said investigations of criminal gangs involve the security concern of violent reprisals and there is a need to protect the  public from such activities.

But, several lawmakers, including Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte, Mark Golding and Senator K D Knight, expressed reservation about granting the police this new power.

The meeting is still under way at Gordon House in downtown Kingston.

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