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    Story Highlights

    • The National Security Minister is prepared to seek to facilitate amendments to regulations that prohibit state-financed legal representation for the JCF's memberss.
    • Mr. Bunting argued that the need for state-financed legal provisions is even more relevant against the background that an officer may be attending a hearing merely as a witness and would be hard pressed to afford an attorney’s fees.
    • Mr. Bunting assured that once Commissioner Ellington supports the proposal for amendment (s), “then I will ask the Attorney General to guide us in terms of how we can achieve that without violating any principle of law.”

    National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, says he is prepared to make the necessary representation to facilitate amendments to existing regulations that prohibit state-financed legal representation for the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) members.

    This commitment comes against the background of what he said were concerns raised recently by the Jamaica Police Federation (JPF) over fees, averaging between $80,000 and $100,000, which JCF members have had to pay for private legal representation in matters involving them and agencies such as the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM).

    He was speaking at Tuesday’s (October 8) motor vehicle handing over ceremony at the Police Commissioner’s Office, Old Hope Road, St. Andrew.

    Mr. Bunting noted that JPF chairman, Sergeant Raymond Wilson, proposed an examination of the existing regulations, to determine how best the government can assist police officers with legal representation, “either at the point of questioning by INDECOM during the investigation process or, indeed, if the matter goes to court.”

    “From my own perspective, it seems that fairness and justice demands that in the same way, that if a Minister or a Permanent Secretary or another officer of government has to go to court in the course of his (or her) performing professional duties… and they would get representation from the Attorney General’s Department or from private lawyers, paid for by the government, then  I think, by extension,… it would seem only fair that the same consideration be extended to the men and women (of the JCF),” the Minister reasoned.

    Mr. Bunting argued that the need for state-financed legal provisions is even more relevant against the background that an officer may be attending a hearing merely as a witness and would be hard pressed to afford an attorney’s fees.

    “We, as a government, in the course of negotiations, have already put on the table, a contribution to a legal defence fund that would assist the police associations in their representations. But I am going to go beyond that and ask the (Police) Commissioner (Owen Ellington) to give me his opinion on…whether it would be desirable from the perspective of the High Command, to change that section of the Book of Rules (prohibiting the provisions of state-funded legal representation),” the Minister said.

    Mr. Bunting assured that once Commissioner Ellington supports the proposal for amendment (s), “then I will ask the Attorney General to guide us in terms of how we can achieve that without violating any principle of law.”

    “This is something that I am committing (to), …(as) soon as I get (the Commissioner’s) advice, to take (it) up with the Attorney General’s Department and with the Cabinet to see how we can provide some institutional support for persons in the line of duty on legitimate operations,”  the Minister stated.

    Tuesday’s ceremony saw the handing over of some 39 motor vehicles, valued over $136 million, to boost the JCF’s fleet.

    The units, all Mitsubishi 4X4 twin-cab pick-ups, which were acquired through local dealership, Stewart Auto Sales Limited, were symbolically presented to Commissioner Ellington by Mr. Bunting.

    They were purchase from the $300 million, which the Government has committed, through the Ministry of National Security, to boost the JCF’s mobile capability this year. The provisions form a pivotal part of the administration’s 2013/14 strategic priority focus on improving security and safety in Jamaica.