The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force is going ahead with its new policy of mandatory finger print for police records, despite concerns from the public and objections from some local lawyers.
Under the new fingerprinting policy, effective immediately, persons applying for clearance certificates are now required to have their fingerprints taken for only identification purposes.
Superintendent of Police Mr. Kendal Grant of the National Crime Intelligence Unit said, “This new policy will not be used to assist in crime detection and only used to properly identify applicants. This could also shorten the processing time allowing people to begin new jobs or assume other responsibilities sooner”.
The documents required for a police record will remain. These includes: a $10 TCI stamp, $10 application fee/receipt (paid into the treasury), completed application form, one colored copy of legal status and one colored copy of passport (BIO PAGE)
Attorney Mark Fulford issued a press statement advising residents to “refuse to give your fingerprints to the police for police record as the request is unconstitutional and in direct contravention” of the Police Force Ordinance.
“If the Police are requesting a fingerprint when you apply for a Police Certificate it is in breach of the Police Force Ordinance Cap 18.01 and your constitutional rights,” Fulford said. “When you provide a finger print it can leave a sweat deposit and therefore it is possible to obtain a person’s DNA from that sweat deposit. If the sweat was classed as fluid from a tissue then it should be classed as an intimate sample and therefore a Court order and written consent would be required but then it can only be taken from a person in police detention. People come to our shores and automatically assume that we all have no sense and they can do as they like to us without any fear of us defending ourselves. That’s because we have always been an accommodating and welcoming set of people, but don’t take our kindness for weakness and this is exactly what Commissioner James Smith is doing to us by asking ALL of us to give him our fingerprints.”
Fulford added: “Our biometric rights are protected in the constitution of the TCI, and if the Police think that we will just give up our constitutional rights without it being lawful, they are wrong and all general applicants for Police Records who has NEVER been convicted of an offence should refuse to give their fingerprints unless and until Commissioner James Smith can show you the law which overrides your constitutional rights. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Amendment” Ordinance 2017 does not give the Police the powers to request fingerprints for general applicants for Police Records. This law ONLY give the Police the powers to request fingerprints FROM applicants who are rehabilitated (convicted) offenders who have not been re-convicted.”
His statement continued: “The storing of fingerprints in a database violates the right to privacy enshrined in s9 of our constitution and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. I call on the Commissioner for Human Rights to advise the Police to cease the implementation of the taking of fingerprints from general applicants as to do so would be a violation of our Human Rights.”
Meanwhile, the public is advised that effective April 1st, 2019 the processing fee for Clearance Certificates will increase to US$40, inclusive of the US$10 TCI Stamp.
Below are the answers from the Police Force to some Frequently Asked Questions:
- If I was previously fingerprinted, do I need to be fingerprinted again if applying for another Police Record? No, applicants will not be required to give fingerprints for future applications.
- Where can I have my fingerprints taken? Fingerprinting of persons will be done at on the islands of South Caicos, Grand Turk, Providenciales and North Caicos at the respective Police Records Office or Police Station in which application is made.
- Why do I have to give fingerprints in order to obtain a Police Record? The law (Rehabilitation of Offenders “Amendment” Ordinance) requires that applicants for Police Records be fingerprinted as deemed by the Commissioner of Police.
- Are there any additional charges for fingerprints? Not at this time. However effective April 1st2019 applicants will be required to pay a $30 processing fee and a $10 postage stamp.
- Will my fingerprints be used against me for any crimes? Fingerprints will be used for the purpose of identification.
- Are children required to give prints? No, persons under the age of 16yrs will not be required to give fingerprints.
- Are elderly persons required to give fingerprints? Elderly persons that are able to apply for a Police Record in person will be required to submit fingerprints.
- Are handicapped or disabled persons required to give fingerprints? No, unless they are able to apply in person.
- If I currently reside in another country, am I still required to give my fingerprints? Yes, persons applying for a Police Record who have previously resided in the Turks and Caicos Islands must provide a certified Police Record and fingerprints from current country of residence.
- Why are the taking of fingerprints necessary? There have been numerous cases of mistaken identity and individuals with several identities. Fingerprinting of person allows for unequivocal identification of an individual.
This story was first published by The Sun