Newly installed Custos Rotulorum for St. Andrew, Hon. Ian Forbes, is giving assurance that a zero-tolerance approach will be taken toward Justices of the Peace (JPs) who are found to be in breach of the regulations and responsibilities of the office.
“I can assure that they will be held accountable for their actions,” he emphasised, while speaking at his installation ceremony held at the Hope Royal Botanical Gardens in the parish on Thursday (May 12).
He was responding to the charge of Governor-General His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, who urged him and other Custodes to “be diligent and prompt in addressing instances of impropriety by any JP”.
Custos Forbes further implored Jamaican citizens to ensure that they also uphold their own character and integrity, “and not seek special favours from the Justices that will place them in an uncomfortable and compromising position with the law”.
The new Custos, who was sworn into office by the Governor-General in January, said it is an honour to be selected to serve in that capacity, stressing his commitment that “the highest levels of integrity, transparency and accountability will be at the forefront in the execution of my duties”.
Mr. Forbes shared that philanthropy “runs at the very core of my family’s DNA” which has a rich tradition of volunteerism initiated by his late parents.
“They instilled in my siblings…and I, the value of honesty, hard work, discipline, loyalty and giving back to society through volunteerism and service…I thank them wholeheartedly for leading by example as I attempt to continue to carry the mantle with pride and instill the same values in my [daughters and grandchildren],” he said.
In the meantime, Mr. Forbes said he is looking forward to continuing to work with the JPs, the Ministry of Justice and all parties concerned to ensure that all citizens are treated equally under the law and that justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done.
Mr. Forbes thanked his family, friends and colleagues for their continued support; and thanked former Custos of St. Andrew Dr. Patricia Dunwell, whom he succeeds, for her years of dedicated service.
The Governor-General in his direct charge to Mr. Forbes, implored him to be very vigilant when vetting JP applications.
“Ensure that only persons who are responsible, reliable, accountable and demonstrate the highest integrity are recommended as JPs,” he said.
The Governor-General expressed confidence that Mr. Forbes who has been a JP for the past 14 years, “is well able to provide leadership to the corps of over 2,000 JPs in the parish of St. Andrew.”
In his remarks, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, said the Custos Rotulorum of a parish is one who displays the highest standard of professionalism and moral and ethical conduct, commands the respect and the confidence of the local community of which that person is a member and has given good service as to the wider Jamaica – which are all characteristics Custos Forbes embodies.
“I [am] quite impressed by your dedication to service particularly, but not exclusive to sports and you have served at all levels in sports – a player, administration and in leadership and generally serving as a JP…and when I did my own interviewing process and spoke to persons it was clear that you have a high level of regard and respect in the community. So I have no worry that you will be able to execute the functions and exemplify the office,” he said.
As the Chief Magistrate of the parish, the Custos has the duty to prepare a roster of the JPs within the parish so that there are sufficient JPs at each meeting of the Petty Sessions Court, and in various districts.
The Custos also acts as Chairman of the committee in each parish that is responsible for making recommendations to the minister regarding suitable persons to be appointed as JPs.