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Sunday 25 February 2018

Process, not politics

WE WELCOME the decision by the Government to suspend debate on the nomination for police commissioner to allow time for a special select committee of the House of Representatives to study the process by which the Police Service Commission devised its merit list of candidates. It is important for this committee to examine process, not politics.

The willingness of both the Government and Opposition to come together in order to refer the matter to a select committee was an important acknowledgement of the gravity of the post involved, the importance of addressing disquiet over the actions of public officers and the need for mature, sober consideration of all the facts.

Citizens weary of the constant blame game being played would have been heartened to see none of the traditional bacchanalian lyrics we have come to expect in our political processes on Friday. It is important for all the facts to be ascertained and for all sides to have an opportunity to respond to any adverse matters raised in relation to them.

Still, the fact of the matter is we can all agree that the process by which we appoint a police commissioner is, on paper, far from satisfactory. This committee presents an opportunity for MPs to closely scrutinise how the law has worked (or not worked) and to ventilate areas that call for reform.

Going forward, we need to see more consultation, not just between Government and the Opposition.

While the State is the most important voice on matters of national security, governance should never be perceived to be a closed shop in which only politicians have a say. As it stands, whoever is appointed police commissioner must be able to inspire confidence and must have a stable tenure in which they can effect real change. Crime does not have one face. It changes from time to time.

The outcome of the House’s probe will have serious repercussions for future applicants and for the nation as a whole. What is in the balance is the ability of the nation to have trust in the Police Service.

We welcome the appointment of the committee to review the process, and further call for the findings of this committee to be made public.

Additionally, the committee must get down to business quickly and report to the House as a matter of urgency.


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