Shoddy police work a concern

Editorial

WHEN law breakers go unpunished because of a lack of evidence or because of some deficiency in the investigative process, questions need to be asked and people need to be held accountable.
It is troubling that a number of cases against individuals who are alleged to have perpetrated crimes are escaping being answerable because law enforcement is either disorganised, incompetent or over burdened with a workload that only a token effort is given to addressing cases in a professional, efficient and practical manner.
The public, against whom these crimes are committed and effects in some way deserve better.
In fact, they deserve justice to be served.
The inability of law enforcement, and in particular investigators, to gather evidence properly and build cases in order to successfully prosecute individuals who are suspected of breaking the laws is a growing concern.
Last week in Port Moresby, magistrate Cosmas Bidar struck out three cases because of a lack of evidence.
He said justice needed to be served quickly not just for the complainant or the wronged party, but also for the sake of the accused.
He was critical of the amount of time that police personnel were taking to investigate and prosecute individuals who had been arrested held in remand.
Their rights are in effect being impinged because as much as the aggrieved party, they also deserve a reasonably fast process.
Magistrate Bidar said three months was more than enough time to close cases especially “simple cases”.
One takes the magistrate’s description of a simple case to be one that does not require a significant amount of time and resources to investigate.
Of course it would be immensely helpful if police investigators knew their roles and were committed to clearing the log of cases that seem to pile up on their desks.
This seems to be a common occurrence which leads one to surmise that the police are either understaffed and ill-equipped as well as underfunded and, therefore, hamstrung in someway to move on cases or they lack the will to do their duty. If the police have the means to carry out their jobs in an efficient manner then why can they not do that?
Why are cases being poorly prepared and then laid in front of magistrates and judges?
Why waste time and money attempting to prosecute a badly put together case?
It is not just embarrassing, it is time consuming and a waste of resources.
The fact that some cases are going unclosed or unresolved is an indictment on law enforcement.
While it is understood that not all cases can be successfully prosecuted, surely the percentage of cases handled promptly by police and given their full attention should be a priority.
Magistrate Bidar ordered three cases to be struck out because of incomplete police investigation.
A break and enter, an assault with wounding and an attempted murder were the cases before Bidar.
He said the suspects had been in remand for more than three months and he had no choice but to strike out the cases because nothing had been done about them.
These are not just serious crimes; they are violent and by virtue of that fact, need to dealt with properly.
For a magistrate to release potentially dangerous individuals back into the communities simply because the police cannot do their jobs is unacceptable.
If these people reoffend, the police are partially responsible for the crimes committed thereafter.
It stands to reason that in order for a problem to be minimised or solved it must be addressed promptly.
This could not be any truer for law enforcement and how it deals with crime.
Whether it is interviewing suspects, gathering testimony and eye witness accounts or gathering physical evidence, police officers have a duty to be thorough about what they do.
What excuse could there possibly be for submitting shoddy work?
Are they poorly trained or lack the appreciation for what is required in court?
Police work is not just about one investigator working in isolation or in a vacuum; far from it,they are part of a machine, a larger body whose role it is to address crime and enforce the law.
When they cannot or will not do their jobs, society usually pays a price.

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