With the increasing number of criminal cases being lodged to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), roughly a half-dozen job vacancies for prosecutors have been made available.
Principal Crown Counsel Tiffany Scatliffe-Esprit gave that indication while addressing the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) in late November.
According to a subsequent report on the SFC proceedings, Scatliffe-Esprit said there were initially 11 vacancies for Crown Counsels (prosecutors). These vacancies included the post of Director of Public Prosecution and as well her position as Principal Crown Counsel.
Five positions have been filled to date and a remaining six positions still vacant.
“The ODPP has the following vacancies: three Crown Counsels, two Senior Crown Counsels, [a] Financial Specialist Consultant, [an] Office Generalist III; and a request was made for two legal secretaries,” the 2020 SFC report indicated.
The report did not specify who will become the new Director of Public Prosecutions.
Meanwhile, Scatliffe-Esprit said the ODPP is concerned about staff training.
She told the SFC that the ODPP had made a request for $30,000 to address those concerns but only received only $5,800, which was insufficient in light of an upcoming ‘Mutual Evaluation’ that would zero in on how well staff is trained.
She said there is a need for Crown Counsels to be sent abroad to international forums or for experts to be brought to the territory to conduct the training.
According to the aforementioned SFC report: “The Principal Crown Council concluded by stating that as it related to the staffing of the courts, the office needs to be adequately staffed. She added that one of the things that the Mutual Evaluation looks at is the fact that not only how well the office performs with the AML/TF prosecution of confiscation, but how well one’s Criminal Justice System operates in its entirety and the way we stand now it does not look good.”
Rise in criminal cases/complaints
As for the increase in the number of criminal cases filed to the ODPP, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Kim Hollis said there were 453 complaints filed for 2019, to date.
The DPP said she, therefore, needed additional funding of $16,703 to update her office’s database and $75,000 for an additional Senior Crown Counsel and training experts.
Hollis noted that despite repeated representations on behalf of her office for additional court facilities and despite the appointment of additional staff, the cases that were being brought by the ODPP before the Magistrate’s Court was being dealt with by a singular modular Magistrate’s Court at John’s Hole.
“Those statistics were hampering their ability to progress in relation to the backlogs as a result of the hurricanes in 2017,” the SFC report said.