Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva has a stark warming for the people helping fugitive Howard Ascento evade justice - ‘we'll catch him eventually, and you don't want to be on the wrong side of the law when we do'.
Ascento has now been on the run for almost two weeks, longer than his original jail sentence of ten days for a string of traffic offences, and Mr DeSilva knows he couldn't have survived for so long without help.
The Commissioner though is prepared to play the waiting game, because, as he says, ‘we don't have powers to just kick in doors'.
“He [Ascento] is being harboured, he's being helped because you can't hide out by yourself, you need people to help you do that,” said Mr DeSilva. “Clearly that's the case in this case. We've seen it before with other people who have escaped custody, you can only do it if there's someone that helps you.
“We just continue to advise people that they're putting themselves on the wrong side of the law if they're helping him evade recapture.”
Mr DeSilva also defended his force's inability to recapture Ascento sooner, and said he was confident they would catch up with the fugitive eventually.
“The police can't be expected to find someone that's being holed up somewhere because we don't have powers to just kick in doors and go look anywhere,” said the Commissioner. “What we do know is we'll find him eventually, it's just a matter of time.”
However, the police chief conceeded that a good relationship with the public could be crucial in this case, and that his meeting at Victor Scott Primary School last night was about building that relationship.
“It's also a matter of waiting until he [Ascento] crosses paths with someone that's willing to give that information to the police. That will happen, and that's the whole point of this meeting.
“It's about building relationships before you need them, so when we go back and we say ‘have you seen this guy, can you tell us about this crime'. The whole point is it's not the first time you're walking into the neighbourhood, people know you.
“And they don't fear us, they're not suspicious of us and they honestly believe that we're there to help them. There's no question that people are more forthcoming with information to assist the police now.”