by Linda Straker
- Several police officers have filed lawsuits challenging promotions process
- Amendment will provide for COP to deal with promotions below rank of sergeant
- Bill must be approved by Upper House before it becomes law
Fifty years after the legislature approved the Police Act, an amendment has been made that will provide for the Commissioner of Police (COP) to have the power to deal with promotions of officers below the rank of sergeant.
Entitled Police (Amendment) Bill, 2021, this bill was presented by Minister for National Security Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell to members of the Lower House of Parliament during the 7 July session. It seeks to amend the Police Act CAP. 244 to empower the Chief of Police to make regulations providing for the promotion to the various ranks in the Force in accordance with the Constitution.
“That will bring, therefore, the provision of the Police Act in line with the constitution and allow the Commissioner of Police to get on with promotion in accordance with the constitution,” Dr Mitchell said as he explained the amendment to members.
Section 89 sub section 3 of the Constitution states, “Subject to the provisions of section 91 of this Constitution, the power to appoint persons to hold or act in offices in the Police Force of or below the rank of Sergeant (including the power to confirm appointments), the power to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices and the power to remove such persons from office shall vest in the Chief of Police.”
“The key mechanism is having promotion regulations…Unfortunately over the years the regulation-making power under 66 was vested in the GG and as such there is no mechanism for the COP to deal with promotions, so we must amend the police act to give the COP the power,” he said, informing the House that the issue of police promotion historically has been controversial.
Several police officers have filed lawsuits against the Commissioner of Police and the State over the years after promotions. They are usually challenging the process to understand why they were not included for a promotion.
Legal Affairs Minister Kindra Maturine-Stewart said that there are various issues with regards to the promotion of police officers but one of the main issues in the court is always centred on the procedure for promotion. “And it’s time to tidy up the mechanism that is being used…It is necessary for this amendment to be made to conform with our law.”
The Bill must get the approval of the Upper House before it becomes law.
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