A number of amendments that will see the stricter policing of firearms in Barbados; the handling of persons in custody; the identification of suspects and improvements to the Police Complaints Authority Act, have received the nod from Cabinet.
Included in these amendments are those to the Firearms Act Cap. 179, which makes provision for the marking and tracing of firearms and ammunition in accordance with the OAS Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and other Related Materials.
Acting Attorney General, Michael Lashley, addressing lawmen in the Prince Cave Hall of the District ???A??? Police Station last Wednesday, said: ???This would then give the Commissioner of Police the authority to ensure compliance in accordance with our international obligations.???
He was at the time speaking during a ceremony to unveil the findings of the Royal Barbados Police Force???s 2014 Customer Satisfaction Survey.
Noting that 10 firearms were seized already this year, Mr. Lashley explained the amendment would also see the establishment of a firearms database to be held by the Commissioner of Police. That database, he said, would mandate holders of all weapons in Barbados to allow the Commissioner to collect ballistic DNA.
The Acting Attorney General added that legislation was also being drafted to make the Commissioner of Police the overseer of guns coming into the island. He explained that the amendment would authorise the Commissioner to take control of all weapons imported into the island before they passed from dealer to customer.
Mr. Lashley further noted that the Commissioner was required to give permission for suspects to remain in custody for every additional 24-hour period. This, he said, was as a result of the RBPF making provisions for the rights and treatment of persons in custody.
???[Under such circumstances] the suspect has to be interviewed by senior officers and a report has to be sent to the Commissioner where he would give permission to detain the person further,??? the Minister said.
In addition, recent Cabinet-approved amendments to the Evidence Act would see the interviewing of suspects being done electronically, and interview rooms across the island retrofitted for this purpose.
Mr. Lashley disclosed that the amended Act would allow the use of profile matching systems as visual identification evidence in criminal proceedings. ???This system will make provision for witnesses to identify an accused person where instead of the traditional line up, images will be generated electronically through a profile matching system,??? he indicated.
Meanwhile, a proposal is also before Cabinet to discuss changes to the Police Complaints Act Cap. 1678, which include amending the function of the Complaints Authority, the supervision of investigations, and the formal resolutions of complaints.