14 May 2011

When is a Police Officer not a Police Officer?

'The problem with constables sitting in the States is that they are police officers-there's a possible question over the fact that 12 policemen make up a quarter of the States'
-Former Bailiff, Sir Peter Crill
On 3rd November 2009, Deputy Martin of St. Helier asked the following question: 

Given that on 6th October 2009 the Chairman [of the Comité des Connétables] advised the Assembly that several of the Connétables, to his knowledge, still held warrant cards, could he state who they are, why they hold them and which of these Connétables, if any, served time in the Honorary Police in another capacity? 

At the time, Constable Vibert did not have the information to hand, but on the 17th November (2009) he gave the folowing response:  'I now wish to advise Members that at present the Connétables of St. Brelade, St. Clement, Grouville, St. John, St. Mary and St. Peter hold a warrant card.  The cards were issued to these Connétables as a proof of identity, should it be required.  Of these Connétables, only St. John and St. Peter have served in the Honorary Police in another capacity.'

Ken Vibert, Chairman of the Comité des Connétables,
 revealed that 6 of the 12 Constables carry cards that identify them as police officers
Since this date, I emailed PPC (Privileges and Procedures Committee), the body which is responsible for States procedures, discipline et cetera and suggested that all States Members should be issued with an ID card, if they wanted one. This has subsequently be implemented.

In the light of this, I will be asking the following question at Tuesday's States sitting:

  “Further to his response to a question on 17th November 2009 when the Chairman told the Assembly that the Connétables carried warrant cards for means of identification and in view of the fact that ID cards have subsequently been made available to all States members, is there now a need for Connétables to carry warrant cards? "

The underlying issue is, of course, not the card itself, but what the card implies. The only people who carry warrant cards are 'active' policemen, but the Constables claim time and time again that they are not involved in policing activities. Indeed, the dictionary definition of a warrant card is 'proof of identification and authority carried by police officers.
It is also my understanding that police officers (States Police or honorary) have to resign before they can take up the position of States Member - or indeed run for office (I have copied the SG into this for him to comment).

It is completely innappropriate, therefrore, in my mind - and hopefully that of the States Assembly, that any States Member should be in possession of any card which bestows upon them an autority that is not legitimate.
Now of course, we get in to the realms of technicalities, because as we know, Constables are police officers (remember the words of the late Sir Peter Crill and more recently by our own SG/AG). It is a historical quirk which has yet to be regularized. However, the practical reality, which we are interested in as States Members is that the Constables are not involved in active policing duties, by their own admission. It therefore seems an entirely reasonable request for the States to make to ask them to surrender their cards which bestow on them a power which is not appropriate in this day.

It will be interesting to see how long this anomaly is allowed to continue, particularly at a time when the Dual (Triple) rôles of the Bailiff and other Crown Officers are under under renewed and intense scrutiny.


  1. Not quite - Honorary officers stand down, not resign, to run for office or indeed take any active or public part in an election. They resign if they should be elected, but resume active duty otherwise.

  2. There is nothing wrong with the Constables in the states - people who are close to the Parish and can represent the parish.

    Montford gets sucked into trendy "Stuart Syvret" type arguements yet again!

  3. Police everywhere these days, it's like there's a major incident all the time, like living in a Police State!
    What on Earth were they all doing beforehand if they can afford to wander around all day now?

  4. Montfort.

    More informative and frightening revelations from former DCO HARPER

  5. Shouldn't the Police, Professional or Honorary or the Constables be finding out the truth about the death of Miss Dita Pavarniece?

    How is it that someone can crash a car on a Jersey road, causing the death of another human being & not have to explain themselves in court?

    Deputy Tadier: Have you asked any questions AND obtained a satisfactory answer about this?

    If the police are waiting for witnesses to come forward, how can they do so if the driver is not named? Eg: It could be that he was out drinking in public earlier the same night. It would be difficult for a material witness to pass valid information to the police if they don't know who the person is.

    Many people in this island are very concerned about this & fear that "The Jersey Way" has taken over on this.

    Please help on this one.

    A concerned voter.

  6. I have been left quite a few posts which are 'unpublishable', notably several from a repeat troll who goes by the name of Martin. Whilst I am generally reluctant to censor, I will not publish defamatory, frivolous or abusive comments.

  7. Anon - there is nothing trendy about the opinion that Constables should be in the States. Constables are de facto police officers and I believe, as is consistent with tried and tested democratic principles of the last 250 years, in the separation of powers - You should not have the same people who make laws involved in anyway in the policing of laws or the direct oversight of those who do. Those who ignore these inconvenient anomalies of the Jersey system are the ones guilty of getting 'sucked into' ossified and ultra conservative anachronisms that have no place in a civilised society

  8. Anon. I do not know if the driver has or will be named. Normal practice, as far as I know would be to name him or her once charged. Presumably the driver (or at least the owner) must be known to the police already, by the number plate. It could be that the driver is still unconscious - quite likely looking at the state of the car - and that the police are waiting for him/her to regain consciousness before questioning.

    It is not for politicians to interfere in policing matters (see comments above), but I am happy to talk to colleagues and see what general questions can be asked

  9. The following message has been left by Ian Evans. I have edited it slightly, as some of the views expressed would not be ones that I would want to be attributed to this blog, though that is not to comment one way or the other on their validity. For information on his comments you can follow this link: http://therightofreply.blogspot.com/2011/03/does-jersey-need-policemen-that-refuse.html

  10. From Ian Evans:They should all go, same as the Jurats who are not qualified people. If a police force is to be legitimate, it should not contain unqualified people such as Centenier D who refuses to charge child abusers [...]

    In my case of the 21st June 2006, a Royal Court judge and two jurats concluded (twice) that the four policemen had lied in my case, and still found me guilty. A CD with the evidence is available to you Monty if you choose to ask me. Furthermore, our judges should be dismissed from active duty in Jersey, and should be replaced by circuit judges from the mainland who we would hope, would be impartial and objective, and NOT conflicted in any way.

  11. Some of these posts have been delayed as they were mixed up with other 'spam' comments. Sorry for the delay

  12. mr tadier
    i am not a troll as you try to state because i doint belive in all you say dose not make me one may i say i am a true jersey man who is relly concerned about what is going on on this island how there is one law for the rich and one for the rest of us look at the way mr syvret has been treated over data/p then look how mr power and tlm have been treated and still nothing in the states said or done.and i allso use my real name martin

  13. Martin,

    I can only say as I find. One dictionary definition of 'troll' is:

    'someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community... with the primary intent of provoking readers (in this case the blogger too) into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

    This seems to fit for many of your posts, but apologies if this is unfair.

  14. The other thing, you have left comments which you know would be completely defamatory if ever they were to be published. You tried leaving one last week on my site and on that of a colleague of mine and you made an allegation of a criminal activity against a member of the public, without a shred of proof. I believe that the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty' is one of the most important foundations of civilised society. If you have concerns and evidence about criminal activity you have heard, please take it to the police. They are not all corrupt as you would have us believe.

    Otherwise, I look forward to your contributions in future

  15. Monty, I would hazzard a guess that Martin is a victim, and I know he is very passionate about what is happening in Jersey.

    He, like the rest of us, wants some honour and accountability in the States. He is also very much like me, he is not affraid to speak his mind.

    But as we know, honesty, and the States of Jersey, do not go hand in hand....

  16. I have a whole bucket load of proof for this link!!!


  17. Montfort.

    Interview with Deputy Bob Hill concerning his SERIOUS COMPLAINT