The final decision on whether or not to implement a directive to the police from National Security Minister Jack Warner to withhold figures on murders lies with the Commissioner of Police, director of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) Gillian Lucky has said.
And the Express understands the the Police Service Commission held an emergency meeting last night to address the issue.
Speaking to reporters after her presentation at the Institute of Chartered Accountants International Accounting and Financial Conference yesterday, Lucky said in 2006, the new Police Service Act incorporated amendments that underpinned more autonomy to the Commissioner of Police, albeit making him or her accountable to the Police Service Commission.
Warner said yesterday that "with immediate effect, I have decided that no figures of any kind would be given anywhere for any absence of murders, and murder reports would be given quarterly as necessary and not daily as the case may be. I have also instructed the police not to reveal any figures or murders anywhere, anytime and this was done to take away from the Opposition the desire to create mischief where none existed".
According to Lucky, the Police Commissioner will have to make a decision at the end of the day as to whether whatever suggestion has been made will be what he wants to take on board.
"With the PCA, for example, we can make recommendations and have a discussion and if we agree to disagree, so be it. But what I am saying is that it's up to the CoP to make that decision," she said, noting that such figures would certainly be of use to the Police Commissioner regarding implementation of policies and organisation.
She said Warner's statement would not interfere with the operations of the PCA. "(We are) an independent organisation and our remit and mandate and function as stated in the PCA Act of Trinidad and Tobago. So whatever statements or decisions that are taken in the political arena or elsewhere, that has to be respected, but at the end of the day the PCA will not be compromised in any way," Lucky said.
She said she would be meeting with acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams today, and one of the topics to be discussed would be improving communication between the Police Service and the PCA. She added that there was nothing to suggest statistics received from the Service would not be accurate.
"What we will be ensuring is that once we make the request that we get it in a timely manner," she said.
She added, "I think figures are very important. It is important to track and place what is taking place, what is happening in crime. I made the comment that unless we do something, crime detection rates (which at September was 15 per cent) will keep going down. We are not going to know if we make any progress unless we take a scientific approach to determine independently if a measure is working. We want to ensure the justice system does not collapse," she said.
Lucky also expressed concern about the budget allocation to the Ministry of Justice. "One has to ask: is there going to be enough money to implement all the plans discussed for strengthening the criminal justice system?" she said.
The Ministry of Justice received an allocation of just over $800 million, up from $674 million last year.
The PCA itself, she said, received $15.2 million—about $500,000 more than last year.