WE SHARE the concerns of Police Complaints Authority (PCA) director David West over the discovery of what appears to be ammunition belonging to the police in the body of a murder victim and, in a separate incident, on two suspects. We further endorse West’s position that all probes into this matter should be urgently expedited.
The seriousness of these developments demands the fullest attention of Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, the Special Branch, Minister of National Security Stuart Young, in addition to the PCA and the Professional Standards Bureau of the Police Service.
They must bite the bullet on this one. There are unsettling questions that must now be answered urgently. Was there direct or indirect involvement of police officials in both matters? All police ammunition is supposed to be fully traceable. Is that the case here? If not, have breaches in the regulations governing the management of these items occurred?
Whatever the facts, the situation is a dangerous one suggesting police complicity in crime at worst and insouciance or ineptitude at best. The reputation of the Police Service, currently being rehabilitated by Griffith, is newly tarnished. Which is not to say these incidents are as a result of recent activity. They could well be due to long-term failures within the systems governing the service. Which is why a full inquiry is needed to ascertain the custody chain of the ammunition in question. That inquiry should, ideally, be independent or at least Parliament-driven.
Undoubtedly these matters engage sensitive issues relating to law enforcement and national security which may militate against the likelihood of a probe by outside agencies. That said, there is no good reason why the Parliament’s committee on national security cannot be asked to inquire into this matter, with the assistance of all of the agencies that are now seeking to unravel what has gone wrong.
It is a dangerous world in which police involvement or indirect facilitation can appear to be so blatant. There have long been concerns over the use of official stores of firearms by criminal elements as well as of corruption within the ranks. Lingering questions over the day of total policing and the jailbreak of 2015 plus the increase in instances in which criminals have masqueraded as law enforcement officers in order to lure victims have already left the public wary and distrustful.
Having only just recovered from a health scare on Sunday, Griffith must now ensure these latest mysteries are swiftly solved, perpetrators punished and remedial action taken in order to prevent a further deterioration of trust.