November 28, 2020

Editorial: Tell me the old, old story

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“Tell me the old, old story” is an old hymn I sang when I was a boy – now that tells you how old it is! One of the lines is “Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in” and another, “Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon.”

The old, old, story I start this New Year is that people do not listen to common sense because it’s boring and not exciting. They do not listen to any advice because it will not happen to them. They do not take any notice of history because it never repeats itself. The first comment may be true but the last two are wrong. As for the first I guess common sense doesn’t exist at all.

I am, of course referring to the second death in less than a week off Pedro Castle. I said in an editorial that I thought it was unlikely people would take any notice of warning signs but I was still shocked at someone deciding to jump from the rocks into the water so soon after Justin Henry did and died. That the same fate happened to 21 year old Adam Rankine, who perhaps thought it would be exciting, makes no sense to me but obviously made perfect sense to him. But at what cost? Life. To beat the elements may be exciting and you might win but when you don’t there is much suffering you leave behind. You are only a statistic in a newspaper but to your loved ones you are putting them through hell. Do you really want to do that? Does that make sense?

Judge Alexander Henderson, last Wednesday (28), criticised the RCIPS for the way they obtain descriptions of persons seen committing a crime and the way identification parades are held. He made these comments together with recommendations when he found Noval Barrett not guilty of robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery after Barrett was charged with these offences. This was in connection with a robbery at the Tortuga Duty Free Liquour Store on Boilers Road in George Town on 17th August, 2010.

Both police witnesses gave conflicting statements. At the identity parade the officer told one of the witnesses they (the police) believed they had caught the man who did the robbery. The witness had also spent time in the police station lobby in the company of two people who were participating in the parade.  Both of these actions by the RCIPS were wrong. The identity parade was not held until 14 days after the robbery. Judge Henderson said, “greater effort should be made to hold ID parades as soon as possible, since witness memories inevitably deteriorate over time.” He also recommended when police officers question a witness about a suspect, they consult a checklist of features so as to avoid any accidental omissions.

I thought that was common sense but obviously I am wrong as I have now discovered there is no such thing as common sense!

What does concern you and me is this is another case being lost by the Crown due to police recording methods and not following proper procedures. How many times has this happened? For over 20 years! Will the recommendations of Judge Henderson be implemented? In October our columnist, Georgina Wilcox, lamented on the 1996 Crime and Safety Survey asking, “why so little of the recommendations [of the Safety Survey] (if any) were implemented.”

This is now 2012. There may be no common sense but please don’t tell me the old, old story.

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