Hinds denies police unit reports to him

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Fitzgerald Hinds –

Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds has denied claims in a newspaper report that a specialised “spy” unit within the police service reports to him.

Questions on the matter were posed to Hinds in the Upper House on Tuesday by opposition senators Jayanti Lutchmedial-Ramdial and Wade Mark.

Asked pointedly by Mark if the unit reports directly to him, Hinds said: “I am not aware of any unit of the police service reporting directly to me. The police service commissioner details officers for work and all her other officers report to her, the police commissioner. Any reports, in the context of the relationship between the executive, the Cabinet, and the police service are conducted through the office of the Commissioner of Police.”

A report in the TT Guardian on Tuesday said the Research and Analytical Unit (RAU) of the police reports only to the Special Branch (SB) and falls under the remit of the Minister of National Security.

It cited undisclosed sources as saying information provided by the unit led to the shakeup in the SSA that began with the replacement of its director, Major Roger Best.

The article also said the unit is equipped with cameras and equipment to intercept communications and is supported by a foreign government.

However, Hinds said he was not aware whether the RAU was capable of intercepting private communications.

He said there are legal allowances for law enforcement to intercept communications. “The law of TT, the Interception of Communications Act, allows for and prescribes the circumstances that will permit three entities – the Commissioner of Police, the Chief of Defence Staff, and the Strategic Services Agency – to conduct interception of communications, like all other countries that possess it for the purpose or purposes of attacking, solving, preventing crime. “In respect of the unit, the Commissioner of Police delegates her authority, quite lawfully and constitutionally, to officers of the TT Police Service… whoever the commissioner delegates her authority to – lawfully – to conduct the work of the Commissioner of Police is a matter for the Commissioner of Police.”

Asked by Lutchmedial-Ramdial if information from the unit led to Best’s removal, Hinds said: “As I indicated earlier, the law governs the activity that the honourable senator is referring to, and there is nothing useful else I could add.”