The State of Emergency and the Anti-Gang Act leave the Police Service more vulnerable than empowered, said Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard.
Gaspard yesterday slammed the Police Service, blaming officers for not doing enough groundwork to hold people charged with gang-related activity.
He said the new legislation extended the police's power, but did not suspend the Constitution or the judges' rules, which left the Police Service open to criticism.
"Arrests and charges made and preferred in the State of Emergency, as far as they pertain to the Anti-Gang Act, cannot be pursued on the basis that the judges' rules of fair play between the subject and the citizen would have been cast aside. It just cannot," he said.
Gaspard said the Anti-Gang Act was not necessary to arrest and charge suspected gang members.
Over 400 people were arrested as suspected gang members, but already, over 200 of them have been released.
Gaspard made the statements yesterday at the Law Association's panel discussion on the Anti-Gang Act and the Data Protection Act at the Hugh Wooding Law School, St Augustine.
"When you look at the schedule of offences, perhaps the only significant offence included in the schedule that we cannot attack without the normal law, the usual law, is the gang membership," he said.
Gaspard said the Police Service's inability to establish a proper foundation before charging alleged gang members contributed to the release of more than 200 people arrested under the Anti-Gang Act.
"Far too little has been said about the police's attitude to the legislation, the police's indecent haste to charge people pursuant to this legislation without first establishing the requisite foundation by way of a gang unit, classes, courses lectures, training sessions," he said.
Gaspard said people's liberties have been deprived "not so much by the law or the legislation, but the attitude of law-enforcement authorities to the legislation".
"Even if this piece of legislation contains or is likely to attract certain objections in law, we have the tools to fight crime and gang-related activity even without this legislation," he said.
Despite laying most of the responsibility on the shoulders of the Police Service, Gaspard also noted that the legislation itself was not without its failings.
"This big deal, this big brouhaha—like this is the best thing since sliced bread, this anti-gang legislation. That perception might only be gaining currency in certain quarters as a conscience salve," he said.
Gaspard said the country was "be-deviled with crime and criminal chaos", but in seeking to curb the levels of criminal activity the Government's crime plans may actually be "counter-productive".
"Criminals, like other sole traders, have recognised that pooling their resources is both profitable and essential and now we have the burgeoning advent of the criminal gang and the crime families," he said.
Gaspard said five major initiatives were necessary in order to ensure proper cases were mounted against gang members, which include proper preparation and cooperation within the different agencies.
Gaspard said the employment of informants and the development of an informant policy would also help with arresting the gang issue.
"Regrettably we are still utilising out-moded and -dated means of cultivating informants," he said.
He said the Police Service does not have any real gang experts.
"When we speak about gang experts, we must understand that the gang expert ought to play a pivotal role in the prosecution of any gang offence," he said.
Gaspard said the citizens would be the ones to suffer if the Anti-Gang Act is not levied properly.
"Failed prosecutions would cause members of the public who are exposed to the criminal sub-culture to view the police, if not the law, as being illegitimate," he said.
He said the failings of the legislation could also create "tragic anti-heroes" among the criminal segment of the population.
"It is likely to manifest itself in criminal triumphalism, a tendency of the criminal gangs to thumb their collective noses at the police, a feeling of mistrust for the police and a general feeling of mistrust," he said.
"This is not the time to treat daintily with the criminal gangs," he said.
Gaspard said while the Anti-Gang Act was a "convenient vehicle" to approach gangs, it must be "legally correct".