Not so, Mr. Commissioner

The Editor:

I have mixed feelings after reading in the February 17, 2006 edition of the St. Kitts-Nevis Observer comments made by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Robert Jeffers, wherein which he stated among other things, “The Public Meetings and Processions Act No. 4 of 1969 does not give more power to the Divisional Officer in Nevis over those in St. Kitts.

Let me state from the outset, what the Commissioner said is null, void and of no effect. There is only one Divisional Officer in the Federation when it comes to the Public Order Act No. 16 of 1967 and the Public Meetings and Processions Act. No 4 of 1969. To my knowledge, the Public Order Act was amended by No. 14 of 1971 but the Public Meetings and Processions Act has never been amended. I would like to know from the good Commissioner, which Act or Acts, he researched.

For the education of the general public, I submit the following authorities for their enlightenment:

The Public Order Act No. 16 of 1967 was signed on August 22, 1967 when Anguilla was still part of the State of St. Christopher, Nevis and Anguilla.

Section 10(1) of the Public Order Act states: “When any person desires to organize any public march in daylight, he shall, at least three days before such intended march, make application of the Chief of Police or to the Police Officer in charge of a Police Division of the State as provided in Section 3 of the Police Act, chapter 181”.

Section3 of the Police Act, chapter 181, volume III states: “There shall be established and maintained, under the provision of this ordinance, in and for the State, with headquarters in the island of St. Christopher, a force which for purposes of administration shall be divided into three Divisions;

I) St. Christopher Division in St. Christopher;

II) Nevis Division in Nevis;

III) Anguilla Division in Anguilla.

The Public Meetings and Processions Act No. 4 of 1969 was signed on March 19, 1969 when Anguilla was constitutionally a part of the State of St. Christopher, Nevis and Anguilla.

Section 2 of the Act defines “Chief of Police” as the person for the time being holding the office or performing the duties of the Chief Officer of Police in the State, and includes any Police Officer in charge of a Police Division of the State as provided in Section 3 of the Police Ordinance, chapter 181.

The Police Regulations No. 23 of 1962 came into operation on November 01, 1962. To the best of my knowledge, the section dealing with Divisions has never been amended. Section 4 states among other things, three Divisions namely:

a) St. Christopher Division to include all the Districts in St. Christopher;

b) Nevis Division to include all the District in Nevis; and

c) Anguilla Division to include all the Districts in Anguilla.

The Force Standing Order No. 1 states clearly: “For Police purposes the State of St. Christopher, Nevis and Anguilla has been divided into three (3) Divisions”. From research, the standing order was in operation before 1967, that is, before I joined the Police Force.

The most recent Act, The Police Act No. 6 of 2003 dated June 25, 2003 Part II Section 3 (4) states clearly:

“The Police Force, shall, for purposes of administration, be divided into two divisions, constituted and established as follows:

a) St. Christopher Division in St. Christopher; and

b) Nevis Division in Nevis.

For clarity, the State of St. Christopher, Nevis and Anguilla ceased to exist by the Statutes (Adoption) Act No. 10 of 1981 dated July 09, 1981. As a consequence, all laws, regulations etc pertaining to Anguilla ceased to be operational, hence reference made only two Divisions in the new Police Act No. 6 of 2003 and other relevant Acts, Regulations and Standing Orders.

I would like the Commissioner to outline his authority for stating that the federation’s Police Force is divided into St. Christopher “A” and “B” and Nevis Division “C”. I would also like him to outline the authority that states the Public Meetings and Processions Act No. 4 or 1969 does not give more power to the Division Officer in Nevis over those in St. Kitts. The laws, regulations and standing order pertaining to the subject, are clear.

Again under the two Acts, namely The Public Order Act No. 16 of 1967 and the Public Meetings and Processions Act No. 4 of 1969, only the Commissioner of Police and Divisional Officer in Nevis are authorized to grant or deny permission for a public meeting or possession. I stand by what I said on WINN FM a few weeks ago.

For clarification, I wish to point out that for internal administrative police purposes, St. Christopher Division was subdivided into Division “A,” which includes the area from Lodge Ghaut to the vicinity of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine via Basseterre, Division “B,” which covers the area of Lodge Ghaut to the vicinity of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine via Dieppe Bay and Nevis as Division “C.” For ease of reference, these divisions tie into three Magisterial Districts, that is, Districts “A” and “B” in St. Kitts and District “C” in Nevis. One has to be mindful of the fact that policies are created to assist the smooth running of the Police Force- they are not laws.

It is unfortunate that the Commissioner, in his effort to contradict my statements made to the media, did not quote his authority. However, I have sought to reinforce my interpretation by quoting the relevant laws etc and can only say “the essence of knowledge is having it, to apply it; you know a subject or you know where to find it.

J CALVIN FAHIE

Retired Commissioner of Police