While the actions of the Police officers in Caye Caulker over the weekend will come under scrutiny for the next few days, the practice of Police taking pictures during random stop and searches of individuals, including students and minors, has been a topic of debate for some time. The controversial practice has the endorsement of the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, who has acknowledged that the law does not speak directly to such actions and that unless and until the practice is challenged in court it will continue.
While the ComPol, who is an attorney, has given his opinion, so has the country’s chief legal officer Attorney General, Senator Michael Peyrefitte. Last week Peyrefitte shared his reservations on the practice, citing that as far as he knows the Police do not have the power to take individual’s pictures during stop and searches.
Senator Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General
“All I know is that within the law, our law does not allow for profiling, our law does not allow for detention, except if it is a case of emergency situation, but I doesn’t allow for pictures to be taken of a person or for information to be taken of a person if that person is not arrested and charged, if you decide to charge an individual then the law sates clearly that that individually is to be finger printed and the photos are to be taken, it doesn’t make any provision that you are allowed to do that before the person is charge, the Commissioner can easily say well there isn’t any provision that says well you can do that so maybe that is the provision he is following but I would think that the police does not have the power to simply stop anybody and everybody they want for no reason whatsoever and just take their picture I don’t see the value in that but if he believe that there is nothing that prevents him from doing that then he would do it and we just have to challenge it in court and the court will have to determine that because the law maybe silent o that specific issue that the Commissioner is either allowed or not allowed to do that.”