Saturday 31 October, 2020

Law firm condemns viral fake news message on powers of arrest

Law firm M. Hamel-Smith and Co. has condemned a viral message claiming to have originated from their law firm, saying that this message actually began circulating 10 years ago.

In a statement, Managing Partner Nicole Ferreira-Aaron said the message first circulated approximately 10 years ago, claiming to have originated with the firm, however they have been trying since then to refute the libellous message. 

The company said that the information being shared, claiming that women can only be arrested by women police officers, is incorrect.

"A message purporting to be a statement from our Firm on the ability – or rather the inability – of male police officers to arrest female citizens at night is being circulated via email and WhatsApp. This message asserts that “it is a procedural issue that a woman can be arrested between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. only if she is arrested by a woman officer and taken to an all-women police station. If she is arrested by a male officer, it has to be proven that a woman officer was on duty at the time of arrest.”"

"This message did not originate from our Firm. Unfortunately, our name came to be falsely associated with this message approximately 10 years ago when it was being circulated via email. Regrettably, despite our efforts to disown the message, it has reappeared and is now being circulated via WhatsApp."

"Aside from the concern that our Firm has been falsely associated with advice that we have not given, it is doubly troubling that the advice itself is wrong."

"Under the Police Service Act of Trinidad and Tobago there are no limitations on a police officer’s exercise of his or her power of arrest along the lines asserted in the fake message, whether based on the gender of the arresting officer or that of the alleged offender, nor is there any such limitation with respect to the time of day when the officer may make an arrest."

"The message is fake news.  Its association with our Firm is deeply regretted," the firm said. 

The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) also issued a statement clarifying the false information earlier this week. 


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