The Bermuda Police Service failed to conduct a “reasonable search” for records they hold about the 2016 demonstration outside Parliament, which led to protesters being pepper-sprayed by officers, according to Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez.
In a decision issued yesterday, Ms Gutierrez said the police must now conduct a reasonable search in response to a public access to information request from The Royal Gazette.
She said the BPS were right to withhold some parts of a restricted document written by Bermuda’s most senior police commanders before the protest, but wrong to deny access to other parts of the operational order.
Ms Gutierrez ordered the police to disclose some parts of the operational order which were previously redacted and to identify the “Gold” and “Silver” Commanders who wrote the order and were in charge of policing the protest.
She said the information had to be released by December 12, along with a new decision on any further records found.
“The Information Commissioner recognises that there is a public interest in promoting greater public understanding of the process or decisions made by the BPS in relation to the policing of the protest on December 2, 2016, which was a significant event in Bermuda’s history,” wrote Ms Gutierrez.
“[The Royal Gazette] was correct to point out that the public has the right to know which police leaders were the decision-makers that day and that the BPS leadership has been the subject of criticism by the PCA [Police Complaints Authority] and the NPoCC ]National Police Chiefs Council] on its handling of the protest.
“As [The Royal Gazette] notes, preventing disclosure of the decision-makers’ identities weakens full accountability.”
Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, said yesterday: “We are aware of recent correspondence from the ICO, which we are addressing.”
• To view the Information Commissioner’s decision, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”