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The Ministry of Finance and the Public Service has given approval for an additional seven Crown Counsels to boost the capacity of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, as it presents criminal cases before the court in a timely and efficient manner.The disclosure was made by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Paula Llewellyn, during a Think Tank session today (July 16) at the headquarters of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).
“In recent times, resources have been depleted so one of the first order of business was to immediately craft a proposal, which included a job description for seven new posts in terms of legal staff, three paralegals and a records clerk and I am happy to report that some two weeks ago the requisite approval was granted,” Miss Llewellyn informed.
She further noted that five persons will also be interviewed this month in an attempt to achieve the full complement of legal staff bringing the number to 40.
However the DPP made it clear that for the prosecutors’ staff complement to be achieved, it must be ensured that “the office environment and facilities are able to house Crown Counsels comfortably and so we have to be practical and strategic,” she explained adding that the ideal staff complement would be 50.According to Miss Llewellyn, her office is intent on satisfying the need for accountability, which is mandated by the Jamaican Constitution.
“I am cognizant of the fact that we are operating in the 21st century and that there is a clamour by all members of the public for accountability and transparency and I happen to believe the independence prescribed by the Constitution which guarantees that the DPP shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.is a very important safeguard,” she highlighted.
Additionally, the Office of the DPP is working to put systems in place to boost efficiency, including the creation of a website, revamping its mission statement, and the publication of a manual.
“We are in the process of establishing a website and we have already looked at several designs. We are also revamping our mission statement and hopefully we can sign off on that by August or September,” the DPP stated.
She explained that the revamping comes as a result of the mission not being expressive as it could be and also being more focused.
“[The mission] is not as expressive as it could be in regard to where we are going. We are trying to enhance the particular areas we will be focusing on, increase managerial best practices and be more open to the public. We are coming from a situation where we were not as open I believe as we could be. Yes we have to be independent and confidential but.the clamour of accountability and transparency goes side by side with our mandate to be independent,” the DPP pointed out.
In the meantime, management committees have been set up to discuss issues of concern facing the Office and a manual is to be published.
“We have set up a management committee where two representatives from each rank going right up to Senior Deputy level exists; a Deputies Committee where we have a meeting once monthly to craft policy and discuss other major areas of concern and we have streamlined the units to ensure clear lines of accountability,” she explained.
“We are going to put out a manual, which will help to alert the public and new Crown Counsel coming in about the particular factors used in assessing whether to prosecute or not to prosecute and we hope to formalize a public relations policy to disseminate information.but I am looking at developing the officers’ competencies within the department who can articulate their particular area of competence,” she continued.
Some of the key objectives of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions include providing citizens with a professional prosecution service that is fair and just to both the victim and the accused and their families, and to also collaborate with law enforcement officers in facilitating the efficient collection, processing and presentation of evidence to the courts.