Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Evidence not secure at police stations

Deosaran’s last day as PSC chairman:


ARCHAIC SYSTEM: Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman Professor Ramesh Deosaran at the PSC headquarters, corner Pasea Main Road and Churchill Roosevelt Highway, Tunapuna yesterday. Yesterday was Deosaran’s last day as PSC chairman. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

Mark Fraser

PROF Ramesh Deosaran, a criminologist by profession, yesterday said he is worried that the systems in place to secure evidence at this country’s police stations are “woefully inadequate”, making seized items such as guns and illegal drugs, vulnerable to “criminal temptations” from both inside and outside the Police Service.

Deosaran, who yesterday spent his last official day in office as chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), said former police commissioner, Canadian Dwayne Gibbs, left Trinidad and Tobago without providing the PSC with a proper answer to six instances where vital evidence went missing in several police stations across the country.

“Something that we would like the Commissioner of Police to pay attention to, if not on his own but together with the authorities, that is to look at the infrastructure of police stations across the country,” Deosaran said.

Deosaran said during his tenure as PSC chairman he and other commissioners visited several police stations across the country.

“To put it briefly the conditions under which officers in some of these police stations work really belong in the last century, so to speak. They are really archaic, the congestion is abysmal,” Deosaran said.

“And what worries us is that the security systems for seized items such as guns, ammunition and drugs, the security systems are woefully inadequate making them vulnerable to criminal temptations inside and outside the police service,” he said.

Deosaran said he would like his successor to work together with the Police Commissioner to correct this shortcoming.

“If your security system for preserving vital evidence like guns, ammunition and drugs and other items, if those things are improved not just with the physical infrastructure like steel doors and safety locks but the supervision of these security  systems like who is in charge and when something goes missing who is held  accountable,” Deosaran said. 

Deosaran said when he became PSC chairman in 2011 he wrote then-police commissioner Gibbs requesting an account as to “how, why and who” was accountable for the guns and drugs found in the roof of the St Joseph Police Station.

On August 8, 2009, officers of the Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU), led by Snr Supt John Martinez, raided the station and found four pistols, two shotguns, a quantity of ammunition and narcotics hidden in the ceiling and dormitory areas at the CID office. 

“We also asked him (Gibbs) to give us an account of some money missing from another police station, in other words we asked him for a list from six instances where vital evidence went missing or where certain items were illegally found in police stations. Unfortunately he left without giving us that account. We kept after him but for one reason or another we never got a proper answer,” Deosaran said.

August 7, 2012 was Gibbs’s last day in office.

“At present we are raising the issue again because if people know there is a stricter, firmer system of accountability and if a piece of evidence goes missing from a station somebody should be held accountable a thorough evidence should be expeditiously initiated and concluded,” Deosaran said.

“There are too many times when we hear these things missing and nothing happening afterwards except a report in the press,” he said.