Shadow Attorney General Kim Wilson *File photo
Shadow Attorney General Kim Wilson *File photo

Recently there have been comments made in the media by the Attorney General the Hon. Mark Pettingill regarding several bills that were passed by the Progressive Labour Party Government.

One comment referenced Mr. Pettingill remarking that the PLP did not bring in force certain sections of PACE and that the police were requesting additional powers. He stated that the power was given to the Police several years ago but the PLP would not bring the act into place.

As one of Bermuda’s top criminal defense attorneys, and as the newly appointed Attorney General, Mr. Pettingill should know that many sections of PACE have come into force on multiple commencement dates so as to ensure that the Police and the Magistrates Court Building (Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building) was PACE compliant. Part V is not yet enforce because of the absence of the sufficient number of trained custody sergeants.

When the PLP Government  brought into force the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 2006 (PACE), it was always the intention to bring it into force in 4 phases. These phases have provided the Police with extensive new powers including video identification parades, the mandatory taking of electronic fingerprints, photographs and DNA samples from detained persons in custody. In addition, new powers of arrest and use of reasonable force were extended and simplified. In order to provide a safe guard to suspects, new stop and search powers provide the person being searched with a record of the search and the grounds for suspicion exercised by the police officer.

Part V of PACE which refers to detention of suspects has not yet been brought into force.  In order for this section to operate and be brought into force, it requires a number of sufficiently trained Custody Sergeants to be employed in the “Designated PACE compliant police station” which is located at the new Hamilton Police Station.  The role of the Custody Sergeant is paramount to the legal requirements concerning detention of suspects as required in PACE. This is to ensure that suspects are not unlawfully detained.  The police have indicated previously that they did not have the resources to train up PACE Compliant Custody Sergeants hence the reason Part V has not yet come into force.