The hierarchy of the police force has rushed to the defence of police officers after a Magistrate took prosecutors to task for failing to produce completed court files delaying the progress of cases and forcing courts to dismiss others.
Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith says it is not all the fault of the police, as there are other branches of the system who are not innocent in the state of affairs.
His response today came after Magistrate Douglas Frederick on Tuesday said incomplete files left him with no option but to dismiss three cases, one dating as far back as 2012.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, Griffith, who is currently overseas, suggested that while the force was not blameless, it was unfair to single out the police for finger-pointing in these long-running matters before the court, as there was plenty of blame to go around in the justice system.
“When I return, I will give a full report on this matter. I will only say that it is not only the police that have come up short in this regard. There is blame in every area of the justice system… There are also hundreds of matters where the files have been fully completed by investigators and yet these matters are going nowhere,” he pointed out.
The Commissioner noted that the Royal Barbados Police Force had limited resources and that its officers were often stretched, as the criminal element is prone to habitually re-offend. Manpower shortages through sick leave and retirements, he noted, have also taken their toll on the force.
“The reality is though, that officers are attending to reports over and over. We have finite resources and we have persons involved in crime that re-offend over and over. Shortages also exacerbate the situation,” he added.
However, Griffith gave the assurance that the force was doing all in its power to ensure that incidents, where fingers can be pointed directly at the police department, are reduced to a minimum.
“We have appointed an Assistant Commissioner of Police to look closely into this matter. I expect that given time there will be improvements,” he revealed, noting that the three matters dismissed by Frederick on Tuesday will be looked at to determine if there was “blatant neglect”.
One of the cases Frederick dismissed on Tuesday for want of prosecution, was against Shaneka Crystal Kyesha Nicholls, of Rose Hill, Kendal Hill, Christ Church. She was 24 years and had been on $5,000 bail, charged with wounding Renita Blackett on April 9, 2016 with intent to maim, disfigure or disable her or to do some serious bodily harm to her. In that case, the prosecution told the magistrate that the file had not yet been completed and gave the assurance that it would be “sorted” in a month.
“This is a serious thing,” said the magistrate who went on to say that such a hold up was impacting all parties concerned.
“You have to tell the investigators this. They are working, getting a salary,” Frederick said.
The magistrate charged that “half-baked” matters were being brought before the court.
The Nicholls matter was dismissed along with a matter against Bertram Fabian Quintyne, of Passage Road, St Michael which was dismissed earlier in the day. Quintyne had been accused of causing serious bodily harm to Terry Welch.
Julian Roland Holder, of Roberts Gap, Halls Road, St Michael and Junior Christopher Lowe, of no fixed place of abode, also walked out of the court free of a 2012 burglary charge.