I refer to a recent letter in the press by M Abraham under the caption, ‘A random stop and search by the police on the Linden to Lethem road.’ The writer referred to a “random stop and search” he encountered about 40 miles from Linden by a group of four heavily armed police ranks on an ATV. He questioned whether or not the search was a lawful one, taking into consideration all of the factors which the Guyana Police Force (GPF) outlined as necessary before conducting a stop and search.
I heard and read a lot of piffle that searches should be conducted near to a police station or outpost or at a checkpoint manned by a senior police officer attired in uniform.
Let me be pellucid. I hold no brief for the GPF. However, as a retired senior police officer I still have an abiding interest in law enforcement. I want the police at all times to deliver the highest quality of service to the citizens of Guyana they swore to serve and protect. Hence, my regular letters to the press.
Here is the law that deals with the police power to stop, search or detain aircraft, vessels, vehicles or persons in certain circumstances as outlined in Section 18 of the Police Act Chapter 16: 01 :
“Any member of the Force may stop, search and detain any aircraft, vessel or vehicle in upon which there shall be reason to suspect that anything stolen or unlawfully obtained, or that any person suspected of having committed any indictable offence, may be found; and he may also stop search and detain any person who may be reasonably suspected of having or conveying in any manner anything stolen or unlawfully obtained.”
I do not have all the facts in relation to the matter under review. I am not au fait with the police side of the story. Therefore, I cannot pronounce on whether or not the police were right or wrong in conducting the stop and search operations. Also I am not certain if smoking in public is now illegal. I have not read the relevant law.
I hope that my missive will be able to clear up some questions raised by the writer, or that it may even promote some more debate on the topic. It depends on the interpretation of the law and the standard operational procedure the police have in place to enforce the legislation. Did I hear someone say that the law is an ass?
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ret’d)