Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 06, 2018 (SKNIS): The National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis has made it possible for non-gazetted police officers with critical skills, and a desire to continue serving the public after the retirement age of 55 years, to do so with the approval of the competent authorities.

This was facilitated by the Police (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which successfully passed through the Federal Parliament on Thursday (September 06). The extension of service amendment relates to the Police Act, Cap. 19.07, Section 24.

Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, piloted the Bill through the parliament and said that while the changes were simple, they were important.

Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Honourable Vincent Byron Jr., fully endorsed the Bill.

He noted that the leadership of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force (RSCNPF) made recommendations for the changes for the officers below the rank of Inspector of Police to continue to serve, provided that they meet several requirements.

“The Police High Command has recognised that based on the existing legislation a number of experienced, well trained, non-gazetted officers would have no option but to retire once they reach the age of 55, many of them in the prime of their lives,” Honourable Byron Jr. said, adding that the officers should be healthy, fully qualified, willing and able to serve and protect the people of the twin-island Federation.

The police officer will have to make an application, in writing, for an extension of service on an annual basis for each additional year. The Bill caps the extended service for the applicants up to the age of 60 years – the same for gazetted officers.

An amendment of Section 64 was also included in the Police (Amendment) Bill and makes provisions for the Deputy Chief of Police, or if absent a Magistrate, to hear a principal charge in the absence of the Chief of Police. This relates to matters being tried by police tribunal.

“We have, over the years of our Independence and even before, had to rely on our police officers, our police force as the bulwark of our national security. We will continue to do so and we need to have our police officers understand and have the confidence and the support of all of us in our country, in our communities,” the Honourable Attorney General stated.