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Committee tells Cabinet to scrap PSC

Published: 
Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Cabinet-appointed Police Manpower Audit Committee headed by Prof Ramesh Deosaran has made a recommendation to scrap the Police Service Commission (PSC.)

The recommendation comes even as the PSC is now busy advertising for a commissioner and deputy commissoner of police.

Last month, the committee, which was chaired by criminologist and former PSC chairman Deosaran, submitted a short list of proposals to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, pending the committee's final report, due before December 2017.

The Sunday Guardian was informed that the eight-member committee proposed two options for replacing the PSC and the method of appointments.

These new proposals for appointing the commissioner and deputy, according to the committee, are crucial if crime management in T&T and accountability in the T&T Police Service are to be improved in these times of great public worry over the crime situation.

One option is a Police Oversight and Management Board (POMB) to replace the PSC and the present "convoluted, costly and confusing system" of appointing a CoP and deputy commissioner.

The other option is a radically changed PSC which came out of a report from the Multi-sectoral Review team appointed by the last government in 2011. This review team submitted its report with recommendations to the last government in March 2013. However, none of the recommendations were implemented.

The committee's proposals—to scrap the PSC or radically change it—are for Government to choose either option and conduct negotiations with the Opposition where required.

According to the committee, the POMB would be a more representative and accountable body.

The committee proposed a seven-member board to be appointed by the President on advice, with four from the Government, one from the Opposition, one form the Police Service Social and Welfare Association and one independent person selected by the President as chairman.

This is a departure from the present system in which the President appoints five members after consultation with the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader.

The POMB will be empowered on its own to advertise, interview, recruit and appoint the commissioner and deputy so as to gain increased efficiency and accountability while "democratizing" the process. Calling for radical changes in reforming the Police Service and the PSC, the committee, in its ten-point list, advised that further details need to be worked out for the legislative and administrative framework for the POMB, PSC and Police Inspectorate.

The commission further proposed that the new POMB be appropriately staffed and resourced with administrative independence and accountability to Parliament. The legislative and administrative framework of the POMB, as proposed by the committee, should be configured to exercise oversight from the commissioner down to assistant commissioner in order to obtain a tighter control of the system of accountability for succession planning and maintaining high performance standards.

The Police Inspectorate, also contained in the PNM's 2015 manifesto, will operate mainly as an inspection, evaluation and high-level training body to support the POMB or amended PSC.

The other option proposed with several administrative and legislative changes is the substantially amended report of the Multi-sectoral Review team on the PSC submitted in 2013.

It is proposed that the new PSC be totally delinked from the office of the director of personnel administration and that it be empowered on its own to advertise, interview, recruit and appoint the CoP and deputy CoP pending the PM's veto.

When PM Rowley met with Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar for joint talks on anti-gang legislation, campaign finance reform and the effectiveness of Service Commissions among other matters in July, they agreed to repeal the PSC's legislation.

Efforts to contact Prof Deosaran by phone were unsuccessful.

Members of the Police Manpower Audit Committee

Prof Ramesh Deosaran (chairman); Jacqueline Wilson (retired permanent secretary); Allan Meiguel (Police Complaints Authority); Dr Levis Guy-Obiakoe (security consultant); Harold Phillip (deputy commissioner); Erla Christopher (deputy commissioner); Anand Ramesar (secretary of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association); and Zameer Mohammed (University of T&T).

Members of the Multi-sectoral Review team:

Prof Ramesh Deosaran (chairman); AG Anand Ramlogan, SC; National Security Minister Brig John Sandy followed by Jack Warner; Public Administration Minister Caroline Seepersad-Bachan; Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley (represented by MP Donna Cox); Chief Parliamentary Council representative Ian MacIntyre, Sc; Law Reform Commission chairman Samraj Harripaul, SC; management consultant Alwyn Daniel; Police Service Social and Welfare President Sgt Anand Ramesar, who it is understood is applying for the post of police commissioner.

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