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:
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.