Public Report on the loss of properties at Santo Police Station – December 14, 1999 - Emalus Campus
Upon being sentenced to 6 months for the commission of a criminal offence, a man had his personal belongings confiscated by the police in Santo. Upon his release, several of his personal belongings were not returned to him. The police, in response to the Ombudsman’s inquiry advised that the CID building in Santo had been broken into and that the prisoner’s belongings had been stolen. The police took no responsibility upon themselves to replace the items or compensate the owner.
The Ombudsman noted that the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code provide for the keeping of prisoners’ possessions in “safe custody”. In this case, this was obviously not done. The Ombudsman found that the lack of care taken by the police might amount to negligence. It was found that compensation should be paid to the owner of the stolen items. The Ombudsman offered the mediation services of his office to the parties if required.
· That the Police Force should compensate the owner of the items in the sum of 7,450 vatu, being the value of the stolen items.
· That the Police Force ensure that the prisoners’ property under its care and control, as well as all court exhibits to be used in criminal prosecutions are always kept in safe custody.
· That access to the room in which the prisoners’ property and exhibits are kept, should be limited to one officer who should be designated each shift to ensure accountability in the event of improper or illegal appropriation of items.
· That 2 or more police officers record prisoners’ properties in the register book and a superior check the recording of the officers.
Written by Edward R. Hill
UNDP Governance and Accountability Project
© Ombudsman of Vanuatu
Published here by University of the South Pacific, School of Law Web Site - www.vanuatu.usp.ac.fj