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Police watchdog body challenged by limited resources and funds

The Police Complaints Authority needs more resources if it is to do its job properly, according to a report tabled in the House of Assembly.

A consolidated PCA Annual Report for the years 2008 through 2010 was tabled in the House yesterday.

“The Police Complaints Authority is challenged with having very limited human and financial resources,” the report states.

“There is a need for both a professional executive director and a part-time in-house investigator who are proficient, reliable and capable of meeting the demands of the Police Complaints Authority office, while upholding standards of accuracy.

“Unfortunately, throughout this period there were grave deficits in this area that remain unresolved at the close of 2010.

“The proper provision of staff would improve the operation of and thereby the effectiveness of The Police Complaints Authority.

“This resulted in a heavy burden on those who are essentially volunteers, choosing to serve within this cornerstone of democracy.”

The report goes on to say that the PCA should not be funded and run as a Government board.

And it reveals that the Police Service has often failed to discipline its own officers.

A ten-year review of complaints had revealed an “unwillingness” by senior command to implement disciplinary procedures recommended by the PCA.

“The continual failure to utilise the discipline process has resulted in one example of an officer who was the subject of numerous complaints for over a decade.”

The PCA monitors and investigates complaints by the public against the Bermuda Police Service.

A total of 540 complaints were filed with the PCA between 2000 and 2010, according to the report, ranging from a low of 24 in 2008 to a high of 69 in 2000.

“Discreditable conduct” was the most prevalent complaint type.

In tabling the report, National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief told the House of Assembly that the PCA had failed to complete an annual report as required by law since 2008.

Mr Perinchief’s statement did not directly address the concerns raised in the Consolidated Report.

“There is a delicate balance to be struck between the need in these times for strong enforcement and the fair treatment of those who come into contact with the Bermuda Police Service. I am satisfied that the balance is appropriately struck and that both agencies’ aims and objectives fulfill important and congruous roles in our democracy,” he said.

“Mr Speaker, those areas of police administration highlighted by the report have been ascribed the required priority by the Commissioner and the Ministry. The work to devise a system that provides for the finality of complaints is ongoing.

“Honourable Members and the public can take confidence in the work of the PCA as a vital check and balance on the activities of a powerful arm of the State charged with maintaining law and good order.”

Hampered: The Police's own watchdog, the Police Complaints Authority, says it can't do its job because of insufficient funding. (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published February 13, 2012 at 7:00 am (Updated February 13, 2012 at 6:34 am)

Police watchdog body challenged by limited resources and funds

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