Eve Leary fire: Construction works ongoing at DPP’s Office

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Several offices within the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) are currently under reconstruction following the November 20 fire which completely destroyed the Police Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

That building also housed the Police Headquarters Barracks, the DPP’s Office, and the Construction Section of the Police Force. However, the DPP’s Office was saved from the blaze, but a few offices were destroyed.

As the fire ripped through the OPR’s office, several files from the DPP’s Office were taken to safety. At one point, staffers were seen throwing scores of files from the upper flat of the building outside.

Filing cabinets were loaded onto Police vehicles and taken to safety. The DPP’s Office, however, received minor structural damage.

Shortly after the blaze, Public Relations Officer at the DPP’s Office, Liz Rahaman, told this publication that the office would remain closed indefinitely, “until we can sort ourselves out”.

She was at the time referring to the thousands of case files and criminal records that were in disarray as a result of efforts to save them. Fortunately, the office was able to save all its files, which are mostly paper-based.

Contacted on Tuesday for an update on the situation, Rahaman related that while the hardest task of sorting out the files is over, the office still has a long way to go in becoming fully functional.

“…we still have a very, very long way to go to get back fully functional. Every day we come in, there is a task at hand to be completed. Every day we tackle the task, and every day we are getting through a little by little.”

Questioned whether the office would be back up and running within a few weeks, Rahaman said, “I’m not going to put a timeline to it.”

She had earlier told this publication that the disorganised files would not affect the cases pending before the Criminal Assizes of the Supreme Court, as the respective State Counsel would appear in court as per normal.

The records kept at the office included those for matters for the Criminal Assizes in the counties of Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo; cases being prosecuted by Police prosecutors before the Magistrates’ Courts, and records for cases that have been completed.

The fire has greatly affected the day-to-day functioning of the DPP’s Office, as many cases before the courts had to be rescheduled. This newspaper was informed of a few instances in which Police prosecutors attached to the DPP’s Chambers requested adjournments until in the new year for cases they were handling before the Magistrates’ Courts.