The Independent Commission of Investigations, INDECOM, says it has found that despite a court ruling to the contrary, the majority of respondent in a survey weren’t aware that the police don’t have the power to arbitrarily stop and search.
INDECOM says many of these incidents end in assaults by the police.
Speaking at their quarterly media briefing this morning, INDECOM said it carried out an island wide survey with a sample size of three hundred people.
Nora Gaye Banton has more in this report.
INDECOM’s Commissioner, Hugh Faulkner, says the survey found that more than 60% of Jamaicans believe the police can randomly search them.
He says this is reinforced by the actions of some members of the Constabulary.
In the 2013 case of Hemans vs the Attorney General, the Supreme Court ruled that the police must have a legally sound reason for carrying out searches.
Mr. Faulkner says although some rights are suspended during the enhanced security measures, there should still be reasonable grounds for searches.
He says from INDECOM’s survey, spot checks are the most often cited reasons for searching people.
Commissioner Faulkner says over the two year period from 2019 to 2021, 21 of the over 7-hundred assault complaints have come from stop and search cases.
He says 15 of those complaints have resulted in the arrest of the civilian, some from verbal spats with the police. One member of the Constabulary has been charged as a result of one of these incidents.
Commissioner Faulkner says not all stop and search cases are reported.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Faulkner says the police have also been reported for illegal entry and search of residence.
He says entry and search should be done under specific circumstances.
In one of the most recent high profile cases in 2018, Quincy Frater was killed in St. Ann after the police reportedly entered a dwelling.
Reports are that Frater was sleeping at his girlfriend’s house.
Mr. Faulkner says there’s been more than 30 other reports of illegal search and entries over the last five years.
Hugh Faulkner, Commissioner of INDECOM.