New police post finds favour with lawyers
Several prominent attorneys yesterday welcomed a move by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to create a new post that will have responsibility for streamlining criminal prosecutions involving the police.
They, however, cautioned that these prosecution liaison officers to be appointed by the JCF must carry out their roles properly if the initiative is to be effective.
"It can be a very effective way of utilising the time of the investigating officer ... provided that the liaison officer in fact gets the information, conveys it to the court and does the follow-up that needs to be done to get the matter to trial," defence attorney Deborah Martin told The Gleaner yesterday.
Top defence attorney Bert Samuels agreed, pointing out that the communication between the liaison officers and investigating officers will be crucial.
To expedite prosecutions
Police Commissioner Owen Ellington, in his weekly Force Orders to the men and women under his command, announced that the post of prosecution liaison officer was being created to ensure that police prosecutions are "expeditiously and effectively" conducted.
According to Ellington, the prosecution liaison officers will be responsible for maintaining "regular and frequent" contact with all witnesses, victims and/or relatives.
"Updating the witnesses on the progress of cases at key stages (that is, arrests, charges, court appearances, etc) whilst continually assessing the risks posed to them and their availability to attend court to give evidence is essential," Ellington stated.
He said this "contact" should be recorded and retained as part of the divisional case file.
Prosecution liaison officers will be required to appear at all court hearings to ensure that the police are properly represented and that all applications (such as bail) or other outstanding issues (such as trial dates) are fully addressed.