Constable rejects ex-officers’ ‘out of touch with Centeniers’ claim

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This week, two former St Saviour officers warned that the honorary police system could collapse within three to four years if it was not overhauled.

Mary O’Keeffe and Isabella Lewis also claimed that Constables did not realise or appreciate the level of work that Centeniers were having to deal with.

However, St Lawrence Constable Deirdre Mezbourian has rejected the claim, saying that many serving and former Constables had previously served as Centeniers.

‘About six of the current Constables are former Centeniers, so I think the comment they have made is inaccurate,’ she said.

‘I am not sure what evidence they have to substantiate the claim that Constables are out of touch and I think there is a tradition of Centeniers stepping up to the role of Constable.’

Mrs Lewis and Ms O’Keeffe also said that getting Centeniers to complete the level of work they did without pay was unsustainable and the role should be funded.

However, Mrs Mezbourian said that many Islanders who took on the role did not want to be paid and simply wanted to be able to give something back to the community.

‘The title “honorary” police says it all. It [paying Centeniers] is not something I recall us considering but I think that a lot of the people I have spoken to have said and are saying that they do not want to be paid as they want to give back to the Island,’ she said.

‘I think the honorary police has always gone through peaks and troughs in its numbers. I was looking at a JEP temps passé article recently from around a 100 years ago which said that they were having concerns about finding enough officers. I think we are probably just in a trough at the moment and I cannot imagine how the criminal justice system would work without the role of the honorary police and parish hall inquiries.’

She added that without honorary officers new measures would have to be introduced to prosecute offenders which has been estimated to ‘cost many hundreds of thousands of pounds to set up and run’.

Currently, any parish which does not have a sufficient number of Centeniers can be found in contempt of court and fined thousands of pounds.

Ms O’Keeffe and Mrs Lewis said that the practice of fining parishes should end, saying that it can punish Constables for a situation which is out of their control.

Asked if the current rules should continue, Ms Mezbourian said: ‘My understanding is the reason that fines are impressed upon parishes is that in theory it is eventually passed on to the ratepayers.

‘Then it is impressed upon all parishioners the need to service the public and come forward and volunteer as honorary police officers.’

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