Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC. FILE PHOTO –
DAYS after Attorney General Reginald Armour criticised the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for requesting more staff, ten new attorneys have been hired for the DPP’s office.
The DPP is not responsible for hiring attorneys for his office, but is assigned attorneys.
In a WhatsApp response to Newsday last Saturday, Armour said Gaspard’s call for increased staff was “an unsatisfactory explanation for under-performance of the DPP.”
In a radio interview last Wednesday, Gaspard said his office was hamstrung by “an acute and chronic” staff shortage that affected its ability to properly prosecute cases.
He said his office had 58 attorneys, including some with little or no court experience, while highlighting that a 2013 Cabinet note of 2013 proposed the DPP’s office should have 137 attorneys.
But Armour said, “That is an unsatisfactory explanation for under-performance of the DPP. Other critical arms of the criminal justice system are also operating below capacity, yet far more effectively. We need to critically examine what are the systemic issues that are hampering the performance of the DPP’s office.”
Last August 20 attorneys were assigned to the DPP’s office to address the staff shortage. Armour said then that the manpower issue was one of the first things he recognised when he was appointed AG and he hoped the 20 attorneys would address the problem.
The day after Gaspard spoke out on the shortage of attorneys, the Prime Minister said at a public meeting in Barataria that the DPP had failed to occupy a building outfitted for his office, effectively wasting state funds.
Rowley also said the government had sourced the building on Park Street for the DPP’s Office but it remained unoccupied because of various requests to make it more secure.
The request came from the Special Branch of the police, which asked for the windows to be bulletproofed, among other security measures.
Further criticising Gaspard, Armour said: “The issue of a lack of resources impacts all of our institutions and is not limited to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The DPP is not being deliberately starved of resources, as indeed the reality of the unoccupied Park Street Office shows. I can see no political benefit in the government deliberately under-resourcing the DPP.”
Both Armour and Gaspard promised to speak further on the issue of using the building and other matters.
In 2020 the National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO) held a ceremonial handing-over of the $24 million, six-storey office. It has dedicated floors for the DPP’s executive secretariat, administrative and support units, processing units and units for indictment and vault usage.