The Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) is to become the Barbados Police Service, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Dale Marshall said in the House of Assembly on Tuesday as the Government began the formal process of decoupling from the Crown after 394 years.
As a bill to amend the Constitution was laid in Parliament, Marshall said when Barbados becomes a republic the force can no longer be called the Royal Barbados Police Force because it will no longer be “the force of the Queen”.
He said: “And it will be the police force of our country. And so, the Cabinet has agreed and this Constitution provides that the Royal Barbados Police Force will become the Barbados Police Service. That is what it will be called. And there are two elements to this. One, we had to get rid of the ‘royal’ anyway.
“But two, and I say this as Attorney General, the Police Force as it is now, and as we want it to be in the future, has to be more than the notion of a force pushing against people and pushing against objects. Because policing has long ago stopped being centred on force.”
The Attorney General indicated that as the country continues to go through the transition to republican status, other laws beside the Constitution will need to be changed.
In the Amendment Bill, provisions have been made over the next three years to make amendments to laws, regulations and rules to replace references to the Governor General with the President, he said.
Marshall also made clear that the amendments to the Constitution are to allow a Barbadian national to replace Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state of the country in time for the transition to republican status on November 30. It is expected that Governor General Dame Sandra Mason will be inaugurated as the new republic’s first president.
The Attorney General said that while there are other amendments that need to be made to the supreme law of the land, that process will begin next year when a number of public consultations are expected to take place.
He said: “All that is happening now is dealing with those things that are necessary to meet the promise that we made to the people of this country, not last month, it was announced in the Throne Speech since September last year, so you would have known for a whole year.”
Acknowledging the concerns of Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley who questioned the legality of Government’s move to republican status, Marshall said he is satisfied that the law allows Parliament to revoke the 1966 Independence Order to declare that part of it is valid and to pass it as the country’s constitution.
Marshall said: “All that we are doing, Mr Speaker, is amending the Constitution to the extent that it is necessary to achieve that singular purpose. Bringing home our Constitution, making our Head of State a Barbadian. That’s what is at the centre of it. We can’t do one without the other, Sir. And this bill only goes so far.
“What is found in this bill is a large measure of repetition of what is found in the Constitution. But in some instances, it wasn’t just an easy case of saying “let’s find and replace, there are some cases where we actually had to re-express the clause.”
He added that the Constitution will also be amended to take the power of appointing and removing the head of state away from a minister, and hand over that responsibility to Parliament.
Marshall told the House: “The head of state, president, will either die, term expire or have to be removed in certain specified circumstances. Perhaps, because of inability to perform their duties, illness, mental health. But the removal of the president is set out clearly in this Bill. Two-thirds of each house must feel that that individual if being removed for cause, that there is a good reason for their removal.
“Then it goes to a special review committee made up of eminent judges, only one of which will be from Barbados, all the rest have to be from within the Commonwealth, and including the CCJ. And then once that body investigates and reports, it comes back to the two chambers, each of which would have to vote to remove the president by a two-thirds majority.