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JIS News

Those members of the security force, who choose to ‘look the other way’ while their ‘palms are being greased’ will now find themselves under the microscope as the recently implemented Anti-Corruption Division will be vigilant in its attempt to purge the force of unscrupulous persons.
The Anti-Corruption Division came about when the Professional Standards Branch was established on June 1, 2005; just in the nick of time, as the image of the force was being undermined by corrupt practices of its members, says Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Dayton Henry of the Division.
“Public confidence was at an all time low and so the Professional Standards Branch was established, which the Anti-Corruption Division falls under, to tackle the single most important problem that is undermining the progress of the Jamaica Constabulary Force,” he explains to JIS News.
Since its inception, DSP Henry says some 22 sting operations have been conducted resulting in some 26 persons being arrested and charged for various offences ranging from car theft to collecting bribes. With this sort of success, DSP Henry is confident the anti-corruption strategy is meeting its objectives. “We are fairly new; we are training our people and they are very enthusiastic and we expect more progress as people are exposed to other various types of corrupt practices and the way to conduct these investigations,” he says.
One of the strategic goals the division hopes to undertake is to educate the members of the force on what are considered as corrupt practices. “What we are doing now is educating our members right across the force on what are the different things that constitute corrupt practices and to tell them that when they see these things they must report it to the Anti-Corruption Division,” he says.
Under the anti-corruption strategy, some of the things considered to be corrupt practices includes: accepting bribes for not opposing bail or for not bringing charges; theft from premises; extortion using undue influence to get money, gifts or favours for self or the department.
And just for those who may be fearful of repercussions from having exposed corrupt practices, DSP says there is always protection for whistle blowers. “If a member blows the whistle on a colleague that works in the same environment, the first thing we would do is remove that member from being exposed to unforeseen risk and then we assess the situation from there. If the threat escalates, we can put the person on other programmes to protect witnesses if it reaches to that,” he says, adding that there is a similar procedure for members of the public.
Persons wishing to file a complaint, he explains, are required to provide all the details they have on the incident/s, following which the completed file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecution. “If there is not enough evidence, which amounts to criminal conduct, we will recommend to the Commissioner of Police that disciplinary action be taken against these persons. We will say to the Commissioner that there is evidence to suggest that the individual is involved in corrupt practices and hence we are asking that disciplinary action be taken against him or her,” he explains.
DSP Henry points out that while the Professional Standards Branch targets corrupt cops, the Anti-Corruption Division goes one step further, by clearing police of allegations, which have proven to be unfounded.
“So we can either clear the member or the member is brought to justice and .within 90 days at the maximum, we will be in a position to tell the member,” he says. He notes that there have been a number of cases that have been investigated, the files submitted and no evidence was found to suggest the member was involved in misconduct.
For many members of the JCF, DSP Henry says they view the Anti-Corruption Division in a positive light. “Based on the response we have gotten from our members they are happy because there is an impartial investigation that is conducted and they are cleared of any wrongdoings. Those members who are in fact involved in corruption may see it as a way of demoralizing them but the policemen who are clean, who have good intention of raising the standard, helping people, protecting, and is committed to duty, service, and accountability, those officers will see it as moral boosting,” he tells JIS News.
DSP Henry notes that the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Division has helped to speed up investigations into corrupt practices by the police. He says that the investigations are done without bias or favour and as such, persons are encouraged to come forward to report any and all corrupt practices. “I can assure persons, that there are provisions for them to get regular updates once we start the investigations, which will be transparent,” he says.
He further adds, that this new division of the Professional Standard Branch is a more coherent approach to tackle corruption and police misconduct.
“This approach is more coherent because we have a Performance Auditing and Monitoring Bureau, which would set standards because most of the time corrupt practices come out of individuals breaching standards and procedures that are laid down, so whenever they are doing their auditing, they will also gather evidence that will be passed to the Anti-Corruption Division,” he informs.
Meanwhile, the long-term objective, DSP Henry says, is really to have a professional police force that is respected by everyone within the country. “It is going to take numerous things in terms of looking at our intelligence capability in which we are going to look at some long-term plans in terms of getting intelligence on the various collection agencies on corrupt practices or corrupt conduct,” he says.
He is however, quite confident, that this programme will achieve what others have not, even while admitting that it won’t happen overnight. “Given the resources and the plans that we have to develop our members and raising standards, then I see within three to five years, we would have a police force that we can all be proud of,” he affirms.
DSP Henry also wanted to make it clear that persons, who are caught offering bribes to the police, will be equally prosecuted. “I want to make clear, our determination to prosecute corrupt and dishonest members within our ranks and those persons outside, who attempt to corrupt them because corruption takes two – the persons giving and the persons receiving,” he says.
Section 14 of the Corruption Prevention Act states that a person commits an act of corruption if he/she offers or grants directly or indirectly to a public servant, any article, money or other benefit, being a gift favour, promise or advantage to the public servant or another person, for doing any act or omitting to do any act in the performance of the public servant’s public function.
DSP Henry is encouraging persons with complaints to call the hotline at 1888-1786748 or 1888-4776832, with the name of the police officer, the time of incident, a description of what took place, the physical description of the individual and witnesses present.
“When someone calls, we record it on a form, which is then passed to one of the investigators, who will make contact and take the matter from there. There are information on corrupt practices that persons for a number of reasons will not want to give their names, (but) we also accept those details and we investigate those matters,” he informs.