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Police Service promotion dispute: Officers can challenge CoP
The High Court has found merit in an application by 18 police officers challenging the decision of acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams and the Promotion Advisory Board (PAB) over a recent promotion exercise. The officers had petitioned the courts seeking redress after the recently-concluded promotion exercise, which saw more than 75 officers being elevated to inspectors.
The aggrieved officers have expressed displeasure over Williams’ inability to address their issues, after they queried why they were bypassed and the procedure used to select officers who were promoted. They said there was an irregularity with the procedure. The officers’ chief complaints were over a change in the marking system used and the failure of the hierarchy to inform them of this.
As a result, Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh, presiding in the Port-of-Spain High Court on Friday, granted leave to the 18 officers, who all hold the rank of sergeant, to file a judicial review application. Boodoosingh said upon reading the affidavits of the intended applicants, sworn and filed on January 29, and the affidavit of Maurice Piggott, sworn and filed on February 4, “permission is granted to the intended applicants to apply for judicial review.” Piggott is a former Deputy Commissioner of Police and once headed the PAB.
The officers have retained the services of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal.
Among the relief being sought, the affected officers are seeking an order quashing Williams’ decision not to award them the maximum 35 points for the examination component of the promotion assessment process from sergeants to inspectors, and a ruling that the decision of Williams and/or the PAB not to award them the maximum 35 points for the examination component of the promotion assessment process was illegal, unreasonable, irrational, unfair and procedurally irregular.
After the decision, president of the Police Social Welfare Association Sgt Anand Ramesar said they were happy with the development. He said such a decision will now bring “a result for many issues which the acting Commissioner of Police together with the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Administration) and the Assistant Commissioner of Police have failed to address both from an administrative and industrial relations perspective.
“The order of the day in the Police Service appears to be that members will not get redress unless the matters are taken to court,” he said. Ramesar said notwithstanding the matter now engaging the court’s attention, many officers have applied under the Freedom of Information Act for information connected to their promotion assessment.
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