He responded officially yesterday to a demand from Judge Graham McKerrell for a written explanation about why proper paperwork was not available for a drugs case the judge was hearing.
The court was told that the GBA would no longer entrust the CJU with matters of disclosure – the evidence and information to which a defendant is entitled.
‘I am deeply concerned with how the relationship between the Guernsey Border Agency and the Criminal Justice Unit has been represented following a recent court hearing,’ Mr Rice said.
‘While aware of a conversation between a member of CJU and the defence advocate in this case, I believe the position has subsequently been inadvertently misconstrued and unfortunately played out in open court without the opportunity for us to clarify. The resulting implication that there is a lack of trust between the GBA and CJU when it comes to handling disclosure is inaccurate.’
He said the issue was not one of trust, but rather of process.
‘It is standard practice for the GBA to use CJU for all initial disclosures,’ said Mr Rice. ‘That is what should have happened with the case in question but it didn’t, and as a result the case was adjourned because the relevant court documents were not prepared in time for the hearing.
‘We are reviewing the circumstances to minimise the risk of future issues with the preparation of court documents.
‘I must be really clear on one point in particular; any suggestion that law enforcement colleagues don’t trust each other does a great disservice to them. ‘
He said officers from the two organisations work side-by-side every day, often putting themselves in harm’s way together, to protect our community.
‘Bringing the two organisations into a closer working relationship, with a single command structure, has not been without significant challenge but we have collectively made giant strides in doing so, and that day-to-day joint working has paid dividends for the community we serve. There is no issue with regards trust.’