Former IG, Keith Biddle Talks on Orders From Above, Reminds Police to Comply with the Rule of Law & Confident of a Female Police Chief
He made the identify, Sierra Leone Police (SLP) pressure trendy by simply ascribing to it the buzz-phrase, ‘a force for good’ and it helped to rebuild moral. Before then, some observers described the police actually as a “force for worse”. Throughout the civil battle, the nation’s safety apparatus lost all credibility from the citizens they took an oath to protect and defend.
Established by the Brits via a Royal Gazette of 1894, Sierra Leone’s first democratically elected President in the direction of the end of the warfare, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah as soon as again turned to the colonial masters to return and re-establish sanity in a moribund Police pressure.
The large duty was placed on the shoulders of British Police Officer, Keith Biddle on secondment to Sierra Leone to help with the restructuring of that drive. One can’t speak about reforms in the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) without mentioning his identify. He got here, did what he had to do, and the SLP was reworked into a ‘Force for Good’.
The now-retired officer served as Inspector Basic of Police beneath the late the Tejan Kabbah-led Sierra Leone Individuals’s Get together (SLPP)’s government from 1st November, 1999 to June 2003. Before he left, he once again received Sierra Leoneans to start to think about the males and ladies in blue as, “the police are your friends.”
Sixteen years after he left, Sierra Leone’s former Press Attaché to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, Alhaji M.B. Jalloh, (AMBJ) presently in Ankara, Turkey traced him back for an unique interview. And the interview he had with me on the telephone was as tantalizing as it was revealing. My first question was to ask him to reintroduce himself, especially to a post-conflict era that will not have heard his identify. Read on the transcript of the interview….
Keith Biddle (KB): Before coming to Sierra Leone in 1999, I used to be a advisor on police reform efforts in Africa and a retired officer of the British Police. I turned involved in worldwide police reform in 1994 as a member of the British Police Pressure, through which capability I had labored in Higher Manchester and Kent. In my last years, I was Assistant Inspector of Constabulary in the Residence Office, London. In 1994, I turned the Policing adviser to South Africa’s Unbiased Electoral Fee prematurely of Nelson Mandela’s election. Following this work, I started to work with the U.Okay. Department for Worldwide Improvement on points involving police reform, together with in Indonesia, Ethiopia, Namibia, and South Africa. Between 1999 and 2003, I headed the Police pressure in Sierra Leone throughout the Tejan Kabbah period. I’ve since labored in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia and continued to be concerned in police reform efforts in Africa, Asia and elsewhere.
Alhaji M.B. Jalloh (AMBJ): Might you please tell us the place are you now, what are you up to today, and have your retired or nonetheless in lively service?
KB: I am having fun with my retirement in Cheshire, about 25 miles south of Manchester. My household and I spend a few weeks annually holidaying in France. I do, nevertheless, sometimes take part in discussions on policing issues and deliver shows at universities and different venues.
AMBJ: Have you been following up on the progress of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP)? If sure, what do you make of that progress?
Okay.B: I do comply with the information from Sierra Leone. The SLP are, usually, doing properly and making professional progress.
AMBJ: Sierra Leone is but to have a lady as Inspector Common. Do you envisage this can happen not too long from now?
Okay.B: One of the key points in The Policing Charter revealed by the late President Kabbah in August 1998 is “Equal Opportunities.” This coverage was enacted in my time as Inspector Common of Police (IGP) and has continued to develop over the sixteen years after I retired from being the IGP of Sierra Leone. In 1998/9, there were few ladies in the larger rank, and most were not operationally deployed. (I feel there have been only two ladies superintendents and five assistant superintendents). From what I read in the Sierra Leone press and on social media, there at the moment are nicely educated, skilled and extremely competent ladies officers in all ranks from constable to Assistant Inspector Basic (AIG) of Police. I’m confident that, in the not too distant future, a lady might be appointed IGP.
AMBJ: Together with your huge expertise on policing, don’t you assume there’s an pressing have to depolarize the police pressure at the very least by means of having a council that recommends a identify to the presidency to be appointed I.G.P as we have now in the case of the Chief Justice? Secondly, don’t you assume in trendy policing, the President shouldn’t keep the energy of appointing an I.G.P?
Okay.B: This is an fascinating question and one that is sometimes raised by journalists and worldwide consultants. The IGP is appointed by His Excellency the President appearing on the recommendation of the Police Council topic to the approval of Parliament in accordance with the provisions of Section 157 (1) of the structure. I went via that process. A query for many who question the present state of affairs of the appointment of the IGP is, “How does the Sierra Leone methodology fit with international practice?” I feel you can see that the system used just isn’t that dissimilar from that used in different nations. For instance, all police chiefs in England and Wales are appointed by the local Police and Crime Commissioner, who’s an elected official, with the approval of the House Secretary. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police – i.e., the Police for London – is appointed by Her Majesty the Queen on the suggestion of the Residence Secretary and the Mayor for Higher London. Do these examples not show a very comparable course of to the position in Sierra Leone?
AMBJ: They do to some extent, Mr. Biddle. However do you assume it’s a good concept for the Vice President of Sierra Leone to continue to be the Chairman of the Police Board?
Okay.B: Why not? This can continue to be the case until a Constitutional Amendment is accredited per the Structure. The point is that sight must not be misplaced of the Sierra Leone Constitution. Section 156 states:
“Institution of Police Council (1) There shall be an established Police Council which shall consist of—
a. the Vice-President who shall be Chairman; b. The Minister of Inner Affairs; c. The Inspector-Common of Police; d. The Deputy Inspector-Common of Police; e. the Chairman of the Public Service Fee; f. a member of the Sierra Leone Bar Affiliation who shall be a legal practitioner of not lower than ten years standing as a training Barrister, and shall be nominated by that physique and appointed by the President; eg. Two different members appointed by the President, topic to the approval of Parliament.
(2) Every member of the Police Council shall take and subscribe the oath as set out in the Third Schedule to this Structure.
(3) The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry chargeable for issues referring to the Police shall be Secretary to the Council.”
This replaced a comparable body created in the Police Act 1964 then. Nevertheless, the Police Council was chaired by the Minister for Inner Affairs, and the Commissioner (IGP) was accountable to the Minister who in turn was accountable to Parliament. The present system has made the IGP and Deputy Inspector Common (DIG) as voting members of the Police Council. I used to be never too snug with that challenge. I’ve been asked many occasions why I did not propose modifications. The answer must take account of Part 108 of the Constitution that has made Part 156 an entrenched clause which means that it’d solely be amended or deleted following a referendum. “Every person who is entitled to vote in the elections of Members of Parliament shall be entitled to vote at a referendum held for subsection (3) and no other person may so vote; and the Bill shall not be regarded as having been approved at the referendum unless it was so approved by the votes of not less than one-half of all such persons and by not less than two-thirds of all the votes validly cast at the referendum.”
This is an issue that wants a nice deal of cautious thought and is for the individuals of Sierra Leone to determine in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
AMBJ: Mr. Biddle, a lot has been stated relating to the country’s felony justice system. Allegations are that, the drive is a contributing factor to our broken legal justice system. What do you assume ought to be carried out to treatment this drawback?
KB: That, too, needs a lot of thought and work. It’s something that I consider must be researched in depth. Will probably be a prolonged and expensive process. For example, once I joined the Police in Manchester in 1962, a Royal Fee on policing had been revealed in the direction of the finish of 1961 and that had made the point that’s the essence of your question. The system was not lastly modified till 1986; that is twenty-five years later. The explanations are complicated. The primary being the availability of certified and skilled legal professionals and the have to amend some issues of felony regulation and different procedural amendments to the justice system.
A key concern in Sierra Leone was that the system of committal proceedings had to be radically changed. The system launched in 1968 came from the Legal Justice Act of 1967. Committal proceedings in the decrease courts have been simplified and, until the defendants insisted via their legal professionals that witnesses gave oral evidence to the decrease courts, they have been dedicated for trial by decide and jury on written proof authorised by both prosecution and the defendant. These provisions sped up legal instances and removed the queues of instances and constant adjournments in the decrease courts. There was additionally a need for enlargement of the provision of free authorized help for defendants and this was pricey. If thought is given to what I have summarized you will notice there are numerous points to resolve before you’ll be able to attain the place that the police are not liable for legal prosecutions.
AMBJ: How previous have been you whenever you joined the police in Manchester in 1962?
KB: I joined at 18 as a cadet and served 32 years in the UK.
AMBJ : What do you assume is the important position the pressure can play in tackling the non-ending drawback of rape in Sierra Leone, especially from the perspective of investigations, prosecution and seeing individuals go to jail for such crime?
KB: This matter is now beneath scrutiny, so I can’t comment on the present state of affairs. I will, nevertheless, make a comment on the system developed since 1999. The late President Kabbah, together with most individuals, was determined to see justice for these ladies (and some men) and youngsters who have been the victims of the most horrendous sexual abuses during the civil conflict in Sierra Leone. Shirley Gbujama, then Minister for Gender Affairs, led on the concern. The end result was the introduction of the ‘Rainbow Centre’ and the SLP Household Help Models (FSU). These initiatives have led to virtually day by day stories in the newspapers of Sierra Leone of instances delivered to prosecute offenders in respect of rape and different critical sexual crimes. Earlier than these initiatives, only a few instances have been ever introduced before the courts. It is now good to see that the Government along with civil society and the SLP are looking for to develop and enhance the techniques of reporting, medical remedy and prosecutions and so on.
AMBJ: Mr. Biddle, as a former IG in Sierra Leone, how can we construct on robust ties and mutual belief between the SLP and different safety businesses, more so, as we now see army officers manning main streets in Freetown in the identify of controlling visitors which is constitutionally the position of the police pressure?
KB: I am afraid, Alhaji. It’s a query that it’s worthwhile to put to the Chief of Defense Employees (CDS), the IGP and the relevant ministers. I have not read anything that indicates that the National Safety and Central Intelligence Act of 2002 shouldn’t be still an applicable regulation or that the procedures of Army Help to Civil Energy (MACP) have been rescinded.
AMBJ: Do you assume the idea of police operational independence actually exists in Sierra Leone or it’s just a fantasy?
KB: Again, this query is outdoors of my present information. I can say, nevertheless, that’s the Constitutional place. The operations of the police are, of course, topic to the rule of regulation and accountable to the courts.
AMBJ: Mr. Biddle, I nonetheless keep in mind my interview with you back in 2001. In that interview, you have been very frightened about “the lack of adequate incentives” for police personnel and officers in terms of salaries and remuneration. You will have been following up developments again in Sierra Leone via the media. Have you learnt if there have been any improvements in that path?
KB: Again, I should not have the depth of information to answer that question. My position, nevertheless, has not changed since 2001.
AMBJ: Keith, what Police did you bequeath and do you assume the positive factors you left eroded beneath your successors or not?
KB: No. They have improved very much since I left. I have over the past sixteen years met many former colleagues and buddies from Sierra Leone. Particularly many SLP cops of all ranks – working in missions abroad for UN and AU, where they are extremely regarded for their professionalism, understanding and problem-solving expertise. Also, I have related to a number of younger members of the SLP who’ve been learning for master’s levels at UK universities. They all did nicely and have been praised for his or her work. Non-police associates positively remark on the work of in the present day’s SLP.
AMBJ: Since you left, amongst your successors, who would you grade as the most successful?
KB: As I have not been watching the each day efficiency of all the SLP personnel, I can’t answer that query.
AMBJ: Sierra Leone is a multi-cultural society with critical political interference in the police hierarchy – from appointments to promotions and even the approach opponents are targeted and arrested or detained. As former IG, what would your opinion be on how the SLP can rework itself and construct belief and credibility with the individuals of Sierra Leone?
KB: I’m afraid it falls into the extremely political category and I’m not in a position to answer, as I am not in possession of all of the details.
AMBJ: Okay that’s nice. But with the current political unrest we’ve got seen in Sierra Leone, notably the current incident at the major opposition APC celebration workplaces, what technique or strategy would you advocate for the SLP to adopt in handling political violence?
KB: I’m sorry, Alhaji. It isn’t one thing upon which I can’t remark. That is an ongoing concern and I am not in possession of the information and the evidence.
AMBJ: Alongside what parameters do you have to think about the police to make use of lethal drive?
KB: Simply, in accordance with the rule of regulation and the procedures of Sierra Leone.
AMBJ: Do you assume the Sierra Leone Police continues to be “a force for good” as you left it or it has develop into an instrument of political oppression and brutality?
KB: This is a very political query that is outdoors of my current information.
AMBJ: Some citizens still blame the Police for unprofessional acts. They are saying they take orders from above and they all the time dance to the tune of the Government of the day. What do make of those claims?
KB: Alhaji, I am not conscious of any modifications in that path since I left workplace in June 2003. So, I can’t comment.
AMBJ: During your tenure, did you comply with orders from above (State Home)?
KB: Neither the late President Kabbah, the Vice Presidents: Dr. Joe Demby and Mr. Solomon Berewa nor the four Ministers of Inner Affairs I served ever gave me “orders from above”. They did on events, nevertheless, request me to undertake investigations and draw to my consideration allegations that they had acquired.
AMBJ: Keith, you served as IG beneath President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. Do you assume the late President had a clear imaginative and prescient of what was wanted in the country?
KB: The late President Kabbah was a superb man, who had the greatest intentions for Sierra Leone and its individuals. He was the best man for whom I ever worked and from those I’ve met, for my part, he ranks alongside Nelson Mandela. On the specific situation of policing, he had a very clear view and had concisely written his clear and cogent views for the NPRC again in 1994.
AMBJ: As a retired officer, what greatest international practices would you advise the current leadership of the SLP to comply with?
KB: The Rule of Law and the upkeep of peace, security and good order.
AMB.J: Might you please share with us your greatest and worst reminiscences during your tenure as IG?
KB: My greatest reminiscences are surrounding the fantastic individuals of Sierra Leone with whom I worked. My worst reminiscences are of the atrocities that flowed from the civil struggle. Most particularly the amputations of harmless men, ladies and youngsters; particularly these of babes in the arms of their moms. I’ll all the time keep in mind.
AMBJ: Lastly, do you’ve got any message for the SLP and the individuals of Sierra Leone?
KB: For the SLP, serve the individuals nicely, work intently with the individuals keep public peace and tranquility, and comply with the rule of regulation. Also develop and enhance the SLP and the methods to make sure a higher service for all of the individuals of Sierra Leone. For the individuals there are two points I wish to make: Firstly, I urge them to help and respect the police, who are doing a troublesome activity to maintain you protected. Secondly, work with the native policing partnerships to make sure that the police account for a way they police the areas during which you reside and work.
Observe: For any comments on the interview, you possibly can reach me on e mail: [email protected] or WhatsApp: 00966567672815