Former Police commissioner Gary Griffith is questioning how the media got hold of the confidential report into an alleged Firearm Users License (FUL) racket taking place within the Police Service.
Details of the report, compiled by retired Justice Stanley John at the behest of the former Police Service Commission, was published on Sunday and Griffith yesterday said it was the latest instalment of the “Get Gary” campaign.
Griffith said the leaked report “also directly casts another net of confusion, bacchanal and scandal upon the newly minted PoISC”.
“As clearly indicated in the article, how does the media ‘get sight’ of a so-called confidential report that was submitted to the Police Service Commission?” Griffith asked.
He also questioned whether it was a Government official behind the leak.
“These clear cheap politically planned objectives not only blatantly demonstrates, a political agenda with no purpose to solve the problem, but also impugns the character of those hired to have submitted these baseless reports, and affects the proper investigation by the legitimate law enforcement authority, that being the TTPS, to target perpetrators and allows them to escape via this obviously political motive, as it keeps giving criminal elements the information that has been acquired to bring them to justice,” he said.
Griffith said that whoever leaked the report has now breached the Proceeds of Crime Act and has now tipped off criminal elements of what has been acquired to have them properly investigated by a legitimate law enforcement authority.
“So under the Proceeds of Crime Act [POCA], in their exuberance to get political points and use these ploys these Government officials who have tipped off criminal elements, have now broken the law and should be investigated and arrested when discovered,” Griffith said.
Griffith said that he has not had sight of the report and said that the issue of possible corruption pertaining to firearms has existed in the public domain for decades.
“The granting of FULs is a rigorous process, with many layers. Each requires a special undertaking. After the completion of all these undertakings by various units, the completed file then is submitted to the Commissioner of Police for signature,” he said.
“I openly stated that there was a matter of concern of corruption in the firearm issue. The best way to start solving a problem is to admit that there was a problem. It was made easier for law-abiding citizens to acquire firearms, hence affecting the blackmail and bribery being conducted by the few rogue elements in TTPS using the process of difficulty in acquiring such licenses,” he said.
“I openly and constantly requested citizens to come forward and submit reports or evidence of such blackmail and bribery. Again, never done before by any commissioner,” he said.
Griffith said that he established 14 policies to reduce such abuse and criminal activity of bribery, inclusive of the formation of a Compliance Unit and issuing a FUL card with a chip to ensure that forged books cannot be used and sold.
“Note that as soon as I left, some of these policies were shut down,” he said.
Griffith said that it is interesting that similar questions of corruption with drivers’ permits and at Licensing Office have not generated the appointment of “special investigators”.
“One wonders if the Heads of these agencies or ministries will endure being assailed by both Government operatives and media interests, but the only interest is firearms and only over the last three years,” he said.
Meanwhile, the current acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob said the TTPS has been investigating this matter since last year and that several people have already been arrested.
“That team of investigators have remained and are in fact doing a criminal investigation. That investigation is being done alongside the audit that was being done by the four retirees plus the four assigned offices in the Police Service,” he said.
The findings from that team would “influence” the criminal investigation,” he said.
“There are things that may have been mentioned in the Justice John report that persons were already charged,” he said.
Jacob said by the time John started his probe, the TTPS was already doing its own investigation.
He said that the police investigation revealed “certain things” and has not only still going on but has been “bolstered by the audit report”.
Jacobs said that the probe is going back over the tenure of two Commissioners of Police to ascertain if any changes wee made to the FUL licenses process.