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'Put cameras in police stations'

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

DIRECTOR of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) Gillian Lucky is calling for the installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at strategic locations in all of this country's police stations, in light of the recent incidents of prisoners committing suicide while in police custody.

Lucky made the statement on Tuesday night, as the PCA held a public meeting at the Barataria Regional Complex.

Since December 29, 2010, there have been at least four suicides inside the holding cells of police stations across the country, Lucky said. All were hangings.

The use of the CCTV will be two-fold, Lucky said. In the first instance, the CCTV cameras will be used ensure police officers are not responsible for the deaths, as have been the claims of the relatives of the deceased.

"CCTV cameras must be used in every police station because if police officers know from the time a member of the public walks into the charge room, which is the first place you go, that they are on candid camera, everybody will behave," Lucky said.

The second purpose for the CCTV cameras will be to protect the prisoners from themselves, Lucky said.

"Persons who are in custody react differently under the stress and the strain, and in those instances you must have active monitoring," she said.

Lucky said the PCA was unable to find any wrongdoing on the part of police officers during their investigations into the suicides in the police stations.

Lucky called for the Police Service's detection rate for serious crimes to be improved. "The Police Service needs to ensure they get the detection rates up. The detection rate for some serious crimes are in single digits, some are in double digits. I have been monitoring the statistics and the detection rate is not over 15 per cent and that, in the greatest respect, is too low," she said.

Lucky also raised concerns about the country's witness protection programme.

So far the PCA has received 422 complaints for the year, Lucky said. Next week Lucky said she intends to meet with acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams to discuss several police killings that took place throughout the year.

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