While describing the new changes as part of ‘an even greater, safer and modern bill’, Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley and his fellow lawmakers passed an amended version of the controversial Police Act in the House of Assembly (HOA), last evening, March 9.
The government withdrew the previous version of the bill and returned with a version of the principal act which the Premier said addresses the major concern of taking intimate samples.
One of the challenges with the previous bill was that persons would be required by law to give intimate samples to police officers without their consent.
However, Premier Wheatley shared that with the amended legislation, consent must now be given to take or record such intimate samples.
“In the event where a person refuses to consent to the taking of his or her intimate sample, a member of the [police] force may take an intimate sample without the consent of such person after obtaining an order providing for an intimate sample to be taken, signed by a magistrate or a judge of the High Court,” the premier explained.
He said this request to the court must be made in writing by a member of the police force, and it should state the offence being investigated and detail the grounds for believing that the person from whom the intimate sample is sought is involved in an arrestable offence.
Furthermore, Dr Wheatley said the written request must also state how the officer making the request believes that the intimate sample will prove or disprove the involvement of the person from whom the intimate sample is sought in the arrestable offence being investigated.
Under the new law, the premier said an intimate sample shall not be taken from a child unless consent has been obtained from the parent or guardian of that child or an order of the court authorising the taking of a sample from the child is obtained.
Governor John Rankin
previously expressed that he was hopeful lawmakers will return the substantive Police Bill, which came under fire from members of the public, back to the House for debate at a later stage.