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The issue of when members of the Guyana Police Force can be placed under “Close Arrest” has attracted the attention of the public, especially in recent times following several serious incidents involving members of the Force.
The terms “Close Arrest” and “Open Arrest” have been incorrectly used and applied over the years.
Section 10 of the Police (Discipline) Act, Chapter 17:01 addresses the issue of when a member of the Guyana Police Force can be placed under close arrest and open arrest.
Section 10 of the police (Discipline) Act Chapter 17:01 states, in part:
10 (1) Any member of the Force may be placed under close arrest
If he is under the influence of intoxicating liquor to such an extent as is to be incapable of performing his duty;
If he commits an insubordinate act, or uses any insubordinate or disrespectful language to a person in authority over him;
If he willfully disobeys the lawful order of his superior;
If he strikes or attempts to strike any member of the Force superior in rank to himself.
(2) When a member of the Force is placed under arrest an immediate report of the fact and the circumstances of his arrest shall be made by the person effecting the arrest to the Commissioner.
(3) Arrest shall be of two kinds as follows-
(a) Open arrest-when a member of the Force is placed under open arrest, he shall be deprived of all privileges and leave until the case is disposed of and he shall attend all parades and do duty as required;
(b) Close arrest- in the case of a member of the Force of or above the rank of inspector, he shall be confined to his quarter under guard, and in the case of any other member of the Force below the rank of inspector to some suitable place in the police station premises other than the prisoners’ cell under guard.
(4) When any member of the Force is placed under close arrest, his identification card, whistle, baton, arms and ammunition will be given up by him forthwith in such manner as the member of the Force or officer who places him under arrest my direct.
(5) No member of the Force shall be placed under arrest under this section by any member of the Force of inferior rank to himself.
(6) Any member of the Force who, while under arrest, is guilty of continued violence or misconduct shall in serious cases be confined as an ordinary prisoner in the lock-up of the station at which he may be at the time.
From the foregoing, it is pellucid that a member of the Guyana Police Force can only be placed under close arrest if he commits one of the disciplinary breaches identified in section 10 (1) of the Police (Discipline) Act, Chapter 17:01.
There is no provision in law for a member of the Force who is alleged to have committed a criminal offence to be placed under close arrest, and subsequently open arrest. Such persons should be arrested in the manner prescribed by law. All other procedures relating to someone who is arrested should thereafter be followed.
(Paul Slowe, CCH, DSM, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Ret’d)