Open letter to Police Service Commission Minister of Legal Affairs and Minister of Justice



Let me state from the onset that I am not affiliated with any political party, neither do I have any interest in elective politics. I just love Antigua and all that Antigua stands for.

The current public and political debate about the desirability and effectiveness of police investigating complaints against the police or allegations of misconduct have reached a critical juncture in Antigua. Recent alleged incidents and the announcement that the Acting Police Commissioner will commence an investigation into the alleged sexual misconduct of the former Police Commissioner is raising fundamental concerns about police accountability and governance. This has generated major public concern and political debate regarding the role and fairness of the practice of police investigating themselves.

This entire ordeal has already shattered public confidence in the police force and given that this matter was first mentioned in the public arena back in September 2017 and it took all of seven months for some action to take place, it is difficult to see how public confidence can be restored in the police if they continue to investigate the one who was head of their unit.

Whilst I have much admiration and respect for the new Acting Commissioner, it is inconceivable and wrong to burden him with this investigation and he should immediately request of you, that in the interest of transparency and accountability, an independent JURIST be appointed to investigate the matter.

While the general public attitudes towards the police remain generally supportive, there has been a recent shift in public and political discourse regarding the police governance of their own behavior. This shift in public discourse is usually stimulated by these high profile incidences and leads to questions regarding the desirability and effectiveness of the police regulating their own actions and behavior. While this might be the result of increased visibility and newsworthiness of police related activities, it has drawn attention to the police complaints review and investigative processes.

I firmly believe that the police cannot provide adequate and impartial investigation of their own misconduct and whilst this might have been limited to the actions of the former Top Cop, it is critical that the investigation be done right and proper.

Police officers and the organization represent an insular and protective occupation with a distinctive and powerful culture. This culture is in part designed to protect officers and the Force from criticism by always defending and rationalizing police misconduct.

If the general public is to be satisfied that a proper investigation is done, if the young complainants are to get justice in this matter, then the police must take a hands off approach to the investigation.

I therefore urge you as a matter of high public interest and expectation that you allow someone independent of the police to investigate this matter.

Thanks and regards,

Audley Phillip

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