IS the Police Press Relations Department a useless appendage of the police force?
The question is asked in light of the lack of information from the department about an attempted kidnapping last Sunday night in Rodney Bay details of which can be found only on the web pages of a local internet news website but not in the records of the police department.
The police press relations office could give THE VOICE no information about the incident 10 hours after it allegedly took place, yet the web site was able to give a detailed account of the incident even while the police department was saying it had little information.
Even more mystifying is the fact that the web-site claimed that it had received its information from “ a high-placed police source”.
All the police press department forwarded to media houses yesterday morning were tips on what a person should do in case he/she was kidnapped and what the law says about kidnapping. This information, the press department said, was being released “in light of last night’s kidnapping”.
However prior to press time yesterday the department noted that it did have in its possession details that were scant in comparison to the web based news magazine’s account of the incident.
The department could only say that a resident of Rodney Heights made a report to the Gros Islet Police Station informing officers there that he was kidnapped by two masked men wielding guns.
The department added that all they could say at the time, since that was all the information they had, was that the foreigner was in the Rodney Bay area when the supposed incident took place at about 10:15 last Sunday night, and that he escaped his captors who robbed him of EC$50 and his car and that the car was recovered in the Morne Giraud area.
The department could not verify any of the information put out by the internet based news magazine which gave the nationality of the foreigner, how he managed to escape his captors, exactly where the vehicle was recovered and the time it was recovered, what transpired between the time the men confronted the foreigner and the time he escaped, the foreigner’s age, exactly where his vehicle was parked when he was confronted by the masked and armed men, the vehicle’s number plate, quotes from the high-placed police source which included the victims’ distraught appearance and whether or not he suffered any injuries.
The police press relations department yesterday could not verify the accuracy of the information on the news web site.
The department’s tips on kidnapping and what the law says are as follows:
(1) If a person without lawful excuse, proof of which lies on him or her takes or carries away another person by force or deception without the consent of that person he or she commits the offence of kidnapping and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for 20 years.
(2) A person who knowing that an offence under subsection (1) has been committed in respect of another person assists or encourages the execution of the intent with which the offence was committed, also commits that offence.
(3) It is no defence to show that the person so kidnapped did not resist unless it appears that the kidnapping was not caused by threats or force.
Section 120 of the Criminal Code of St Lucia 2008
Tips: 1. Always be alert and aware of your surroundings.
2. As much as practicable, travel with a companion or group of friends especially in low lit areas.
3. Consider varying your daily routines and habits
4. Report any suspicious persons or activities to law enforcement
5. If you are kidnapped, try your best to remain calm and observe details about your captors. (Description, clothing, scent, voice)
6. Be calm, look for and take advantage of any opportunity to escape.