Outgoing police officer urges Sark to get tough on crime
POLICE in Sark should be equipped with batons and Pava spray, according to the island constable who has served his year in the post.
PC Mike Fawson has also expressed concern about excessive alcohol consumption, under-age drinking and mental health issues and said that CCTV cameras should be installed at a number of points around the island.
PC Fawson a report in the island’s Billet D’Etat published ahead of Chief Pleas’ Michaelmas meeting.
‘There are many incidents that we cannot lawfully do anything about as we do not have the appropriate tools and laws at our disposal to deal with them, such as speeding, intoxicated driving,’ he said.
He goes on to make 21 points or items he feels are worth considering, including changes to how police in the island are equipped.
‘All Sark special constables and custody officers should be fully trained with and equipped with batons and Pava spray for self-protection and protection of the general public,’ he said.
He also recommended that Sark police should be provided with ‘the tools to enforce the laws’, citing a hand-held speed radar measuring device and alcohol/drug breath/saliva test kits as examples.
But he said that it was also time for the laws on driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs to be reviewed and brought up to date.
‘Specifically define what driving under the influence of alcohol/narcotics means i.e. set a specific level of alcohol/narcotic allowed in a blood sample level – preferably zero,’ he said.
Alcohol is a particular problem, he said, with most unlawful incidents, other than road traffic, involving drunk people and under-age drinking in the island appears to be widespread.
‘We, as a community, need to do more to address the issues of excessive alcohol consumption,’ he said.
Sark’s laws generally needed to be looked at, too: ‘Make all Sark laws enforceable,’ he said.
‘There are many Sark laws that need review as they currently would not stand up to a challenge in court by an advocate/solicitor.’
In addition, PC Fawson said that special constables should go through the full eight-day personal safety training course offered by Guernsey Police.
He also believes that island’s constable and the vingtenier should be ‘properly professionally trained in all policing matters.’
It would also be useful to have CCTV cameras installed at key points around the island, he said, suggesting as examples Maseline and Creux harbours, the ‘bus stop’ outside the Bel Air pub, the Collinette and the Avenue.
He said consideration should be given to changing the payment mechanism for the police constable, vingtenier, special constables and custody officers.
He suggests they be paid either an ‘appropriate hourly rate’ or a remuneration which reflects the time that is put into the work, the risk to their welfare and the loss of time they incur from their full-time jobs.
PC Fawson also referred to the ‘code of silence’ which can face officers when investigating certain crimes
‘In many cases when an unlawful incident occurs, the Sark police constables are met with a wall of silence and an unwillingness of people to make an official complaint that would enable someone being brought to account for their actions,’ he said.
‘One of the many problems with this situation is that it can and does perpetuate a vicious circle of violence/drunkenness/disorder/abuse, this vicious circle then moves on from one generation to the next and is never broken.’