Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams says he is concerned about reports of over 40 guns being stolen from the Forensic Science Centre, St James, ending back in the hands of criminals. Speaking at a post Eid-ul-Fitr function at the Police Administration Building, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, Williams said the incident, which is reported to have happened sometime between last year and this year, was alarming.
Guns seized by police and used in murders, robberies and shootings are routinely sent to the centre to be tested and analysed as part of the evidence in court cases. The missing guns could now impact on the successful prosecution of those charged, one senior prosecutor said. Asked whether he was concerned about the operations of the Centre, Williams, said:
“I would have my concerns of firearms getting out of the Forensic Science Centre and into the hands of criminals. “That is where my concerns would be because the Police Service is about getting the guns out of the hands of the criminals and to see firearms taken out of the hands of the criminals returning to the hands of the criminals, that is a major concern of mine.”
Williams said the centre was not under the jurisdiction of the police and it was unfair for him to be asked about its operations. He added while it fell under the Ministry of Justice, it did not matter which ministry it was under as the issue now was how secure the exhibits and what could be done to improve their security. He said at the end of the investigation the Police Service could make recommendations on how to avoid a repeat of the disappearance but now was too premature.
It was reported on Monday that over 40 guns, some high-powered rifles, went missing sometime between last year and July this year. The weapons were brought to the centre for ballistic testing. Their disappearance was reported to director of the centre, Arlette Lewis, by firearms expert Derek Sankar who is in charge of the ballistic room. Lewis subsequently reported the matter to the police.