Alleged police sexual harassment could be criminal

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The allegations of unwanted sexual advances levelled against a senior male police officer by male subordinates could rise to the level of criminality, according to one official.
Several junior officers and one applicant to the force, submitted signed statements to the Police Service Commission containing the allegations and seeking the body’s intervention.
The matter was discussed on the Big Issues programme on Sunday where one panellist, Richard Mayers, an attorney, noted that, if credible, the matter could attract criminal charges.
Mayers, who is also the chairman of the Police Service Commission in Barbados, was referring to one of the complaints in which it is alleged that the senior officer hugged one of the men.
“If you touch somebody in those circumstances then you have now ventured into the realm of criminality so that there may be an investigation with respect to assault or battery.
“If, as might be inferred in the circumstances of this case, that assault was accompanied by some words or circumstances which may indicate an indecent intention, it might even rise to the level of indecent assault which I think might be an indictable offence in Antigua as well as Barbados and throughout the Caribbean,” Mayers stated.
According to Mayers, in addition to the implications for the good governance of the police force, such a scenario raises the spectre of criminal activity that could compromise the integrity of the force.
Asked what the PSC ought to do in the matter before it Mayers said there was no way the body could hide from its responsibility to resolve the matter.
 “The information available to me is that it involves a senior officer. I do not know if senior means gazetted or somebody who is at the rank of inspector or below but senior in years or whatever. The procedure would differ depending on whether you were dealing with a gazetted officer or somebody below the rank of inspector.”
According to the Police Act, a gazetted officer is one from the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police and above.
“It may be as a launching point for the commission to instruct the Commissioner of Police to conduct an investigation and provide them with a report by a definite date so that it is not open-ended.
“I think it may be a necessary step in an investigation of this nature for the accused officer to be removed from the environment just so that you can be sure that there is no interference with the investigation. That is especially relevant or pertinent in light of the fact that there are allegations of vindictive behaviour on the part of this officer with respect to people who rebuffed his advances,” Mayers said.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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