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Police need power to hold suspects longer than a day

Police need power to hold suspects longer than a day

Police Commissioner Michael Matthews said he is looking forward to proposed amendments to the Police Act that would allow the police to detain suspects for a longer time, even if they are not charged with an offence.
Holding suspects for longer would give crime fighters more time to gather evidence that can link suspects to crimes.

However as the law stands now, the police can only detain suspects for 24 hours without a charge. If they don’t have enough evidence to charge the suspect after a day, the person has to be released.

Commissioner Matthews said this law is hindering the crime-fighting efforts of the police.

“In 24 hours, you’ve either got to find sufficient evidence or let the person go. We’re an island community so once you let a person go, you have no control over them, they can leave the territory very quickly. So I’m keen to see modernised legislation,” Commissioner Matthews explained.

The controversial Police Act drew a public outcry recently when the legislation tried to give the police more powers.

Among the changes was a proposal to give police officers immunity while acting under a warrant.

Some elected leaders called for public consultations to be held before giving law enforcers such extensive powers.

With the recent rise in crimes, the government re-introduced the Police Act in the House Of Assembly. It has already had its First Reading and will go through the public consultation process before it is agreed on.
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