The Jefferson Cumberbatch Column – The Citizen’s Arrest

A Barbadian man "pounced on a man he claimed had assaulted his (the arrester’s) daughter and held him in a headlock until police arrived."

A Barbadian man “pounced on a man he claimed had assaulted his (the arrester’s) daughter and held him in a headlock until police arrived.” – Jeff Cumberbatch

Society is partly organized along a number of rigidly enforced lines. For instance, certain constitutional powers are jealously guarded and reserved for particular bodies only. Thus, the policymaking power is entrusted to the Cabinet solely; the legislative power to Parliament and the Governor General acting as Her Majesty’s representative; and the judicial power to those who have been so appointed according to law.

However, there may be some exception to this assignation of roles in some respects. So that while the constitutional deprivation of liberty of the citizen on a criminal charge is reserved to the courts of the land, it is possible to resolve a civil dispute by alternative means of resolution such as conciliation, mediation and arbitration.

Likewise, while the power of arrest may be legally conferred by statute on the police, it is generally accepted that the common law also empowers the citizen sometimes to restrain the freedom of movement and personal liberty of another in certain circumstances without any insult to the detainee’s constitutional rights in either respect.

Hence, while section 21(1) of the Constitution provides that “No person shall be deprived of his freedom of movement, that is to say, the right to move freely throughout Barbados…”, section 21 (2) qualifies this to the extent that “…any restriction on a person’s freedom of movement that is involved in his lawful detention shall not be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section”.

Similarly, section 13 (1) states that “No person shall be deprived of his personal liberty save as may be authorised by law in any of the following cases…” One of those cases authorized by law is to be located within s. 13 (1)(e), that is, “upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed, or being about to commit, a criminal offence under the law of Barbados…”

So long as a detention is lawful, a private citizen may arrest an individual, although this entitlement is limited to the circumstance where the arrestee is in the act of committing an indictable offence or is reasonably suspected of having committed such an offence. The power of arrest upon reasonable suspicion that an individual is about to commit a criminal offence is confined to members of the police force solely.

So as to preclude a rampant vigilantism, other restrictions have been grafted onto the civilian power, one such being that the person making the arrest has reasonable grounds to believe that that the arrest is necessary to prevent the person being arrested from making off before an officer can assume responsibility for him or her.

What has engendered this unsolicited lecture on the citizen’s power of arrest, my readers may be asking. It is because on no fewer than three occasions within the past six months, twice in Antigua & Barbuda and most recently in Barbados last week, citizens have taken it upon themselves to effect the arrest of individuals whom they reasonably suspect of having committed criminal offences.

In March, in Antigua, a group of residents of a community held and tied up a man whom they alleged had attempted to attack a woman with a cutlass.

The Police spokesman cautioned rightly, “regardless of how much you think you may or would have assisted or prevented or averted a particular situation from happening, it must be something that, at the end of the day, can stand up in the court”.

This is sound advice, especially since the private citizen must also establish that the alleged offence was indeed committed, even if not by the arrested person himself or herself. In an old case, Sir Rufus Isaacs CJ commented that even if the offence “were not committed by (the arrested person) but by some person else, yet if (the citizen) hath probable causes to suspect (the arrested person) to be the felon, and accordingly doth arrest him; this arrest is lawful and justifiable, and the reason is because (sic) if a person should be punished by an action of trespass or false imprisonment for an arrest of a man for felony under these circumstances, malefactors would escape to the common detriment of the people.”

And last Monday, in the same jurisdiction, a private citizen placed an air rifle to an individual’s head until the police arrived. He had suspected the arrested man of having stolen his motor vehicle. Again the police reaction was one of caution. One former Commissioner of Police there noted, perhaps in too broad a formulation, “every citizen has an obligation to assist in the apprehension or prevention of crime”, although he also issued a warning against the citizen’s arrest becoming “the order of the day”.

Barbados, it appears, has not been slow to have its own experience. Last Wednesday, it was reported in another section of the press that a local civilian pounced on a man he claimed had assaulted his (the arrester’s) daughter and held him in a headlock until police arrived.

There was no immediate comment from the local police spokesman on the matter, but the law here is identical to that in Antigua. Practically, any intervention may be accompanied by the use of reasonable and appropriate force and the arrested person must be given some idea of why he or she is being arrested. The arrester should, where possible, also effect it in the presence of witnesses so as to avoid later credible allegations of assault by the victim of the arrest. Moreover, the citizen is not entitled to carry out investigations into the offence while detaining the individual.

It seems to me that in the interest of good order, there is much force in an argument that the citizen’s power of arrest should be limited to those cases where the offence is being committed in plain sight only. However, the common law, as has been stated, is too firmly fixed to be overthrown by a side-wind (Lord Denning MR, 1951) and the citizen’s arrest will therefore remain a part of our law until removed by statute.

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30 Comments on “The Jefferson Cumberbatch Column – The Citizen’s Arrest”

  1. Well Well & Consequences September 25, 2016 at 7:04 AM #

    ……”or is reasonably suspected of having committed such an offence. ”

    That is all the father needed to legally restrain the suspected rapist of the 12 year old child. …the child is old enough to identify a rapist.

    He is lucky, in anyone of the other islands, the police would have found him dead, in the bigger countries they would have spent decades looking for his slimy body, saving the taxpayers money for trial…ridding the earth of garbage.

    It now up to the police, DPP and the judges to do their goddamn jobs.


  2. Caswell Franklyn September 25, 2016 at 7:05 AM #

    The arrester must be complimented for his restraint in last week’s citizen arrest. He is a far better man than me. I don’t think that I would have been able to exhibit that degree of restraint if I had the man, that I believe to have raped my 12 year old daughter, in a headlock. Two sons would have to break my grip.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. chad99999 September 25, 2016 at 8:47 AM #

    Jeff knows he is writing for a general audience — living in many different jurisdictions. But does he remind us of the distinction between an “indictable” offence and a “criminal” offence in the law of the eastern Caribbean? Of course not.
    A dunce cap for you, Jeff. In law, “indictable” means slightly different things in different places.


  4. Piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right - INRI September 25, 2016 at 9:51 AM #

    @ Mr. Jeff Cumberbatch

    I was tempted to suggest (AGAIN) that you may be subliminally suggesting that we, the people of Barbados, lock off the necks of these 16 ministers of government who have been acting criminally against the people during their Fatted Calf tenure, until the Police come to arrests them.

    Which would beg the question how long there afterwards would it take for the DPP to start to prosecute them for what they have done in the past 8 years?

    Certainly we could not see such happening before his compulsory resignation at 62.

    So why did I pause making that observation??

    Because I noted that your arch nemesis Chad 99999 (for whom some would append, the words “woman hater?? to his name) rushed in to query a definition or the terms that you presented.

    Chad suggesting that you should be “dunced” for not delineating nuances of the term indictable caused de ole man to pause and ponder.

    Would I would be correct to grab hold of one of them ministers tight since, as per Chad’s admonishment this might not now be either “a criminal nor indictable act??”

    I am certainly cautioned NOT TO EMPLOY Caswell’s more terminal deadman “holt” pun these criminals.

    ohhhhhhh jes in case a body were to ask, while i am prepared to grab one of the offenders as a national duty, I will not be holding onto We jonesing.

    One can surely expect that while holding him, FROM BEHIND, where a neck “holt” (not hold) has to be applied, he may (WILL?) start to “undulate” and such will bring derision to the ole man or anybody holding he.

    One will expect Bajan onlookers will say dat de body holding we jonesing was ammmmmmmm **lling him in a public place.

    [[I am writing this in square brackets so none of the other readers can see this query Jeff.

    Please tell de ole man whu you do Chad 99999 dat he is so opposed to everyting you write bout legal matters heah pun BU??]]

    [[You got a case pending fuh Chad 99999? or you tek way one uh he womens?? cause dese constant goadings becoming too obvious]]

    [[If you answer de ole man, remember to use square brackets]]


  5. Pachamama September 25, 2016 at 10:48 AM #


    It would have been better if the people to be arrested were not normal persons, in your article.

    For there are gross and ongoing crimes by other people, on a daily basis. Yet these persons are not brought into the preview of your reading of law, as a practical matter.

    For example, we have a colleague in Britain who has been, as a citizen, seeking to arrest Tony Blair for the highest crimes known to man.

    Yet when Blair comes to Barbados and could be seen frolicking with his ilk nobody in Barbados, let alone the established police forces, we collectively chose to ignore crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression, crimes against peace as committed by Toby Blair. Despite treaties to which Barbados is a party, part of its constitution.

    More generally, all Bajans know well that the elites commit crimes of all types. We have a system where White people never seem to go to jail, for anything. Is it possible that for centuries these people could have some gene which makes them immune to activities for which all others are.

    In short, this reading of the law, though no doubt titularly correct, is incapable of delivering justice. It is calibrated to exempt certain classes from its general meaning. Operation of law. Colour of law.

    We know that this cabinet is at least engaged in withholding information from the people or broadcasting misinformation on substantive matters, at least. Who in Barbados can make a citizen arrest of this PM? Which court in Barbados could hear a case so ignited? Your laws are not intended to be so directed.

    A significant number of persons have reasons to believe that lawyers are thieffing property belonging to citizens. Who will make these arrests? Would the prosecutorial processes take them serious? How can ordinary people arrest a whole class of alleged criminals?

    In other words your laws have a fork-tongue. It is more about double-speak, more about marketing than law per se.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jeff Cumberbatch September 25, 2016 at 11:31 AM #

    “A dunce cap for you, Jeff. In law, “indictable” means slightly different things in different places”.

    I am afraid that you should don that cap instead, Sir. An indictable offence is always one tried before a judge and jury; a summary offence is one tried before a magistrate. Perhaps you may care to enlighten me as to where different meanings are applicable?


  7. Piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right - INRI September 25, 2016 at 11:31 AM #

    Well Spoken Pachamama.

    This indeed speaks to the more salient interpretation rather less examined perspective of this article and my prosecution elsewhere of Bajans’ abject subservience and deference to “things Britannia” like the Magna Carta.

    We have one Law for the Medes and another for the persians and we fool ourselves that something is happening and that we are law biding people since, the Medes (niggers) are being locked up while the Persians are not.

    THe “persians” have the support of the Shoreys to bail out the pedophiles from prison and transport them to the airport where our Customs Officers let them leave and go back to Englant, even though they are on bail and assist them in the escape from rape charges against our QC girl children.

    Yet Pachamama did you know that the parties who stood bail DID NOT FORFEIT THEIR SECURITIES like that poor black woman did when she put up bail for a black feller accused for some lesser offence?

    Who was it, not one Mathusson? who ripped off the VAT office and left owing millions yet, we would have to believe that after the Extradition proceedings against Ronald Biggs, the Extradition Treaty between Barbados and the UK was annulled since the Party in Power NOR ANY SUBSEQUENT PARTY, pursued this criminal.

    Come leh we wuk up and have a good time…


  8. de pedantic Dribbler September 25, 2016 at 11:33 AM #

    @Pieces, Chad must be seen here as a provocateur first and foremost. When he otherwise makes solid and valid argumentation then he can be engaged accordingly.

    To me as a layman user of the law his comments above are a nonsense. He said, ” But does he remind us of the distinction between an “indictable” offence and a “criminal” offence in the law of the eastern Caribbean? ….

    To WHAT effect and benefit is there an explained distinction other than his provocation. ALL indictable offenses by definition will ALWAYS be criminal offenses. No one is indicted under civil law.

    Chad already has two bloggers citing him so he has provoked, accordingly.

    “A dunce cap for you, [Chad]. In law, “indictable” means slightly different things in different places but [is always criminal activity].”

    I have not read the specifics of the rape case re the citizen’s arrest but I must agree with Caswell’s view. If as a father I caught an intruder on my property raping my 12 year old daughter and got him in a headlock I would squeeze until he lost consciousness and continue until I thought he was dead…or otherwise attempt to maim him so that he never returns to me or my family for the rest of his life and our lives.


  9. Jeff Cumberbatch September 25, 2016 at 11:34 AM #

    PUDRYR -Iesu Nazarene Rex Iudaeae, [Believe me, I know not the man… or woman!]


  10. Hants September 25, 2016 at 12:40 PM #

    Jeff clearly explained the “law” relating to a citizen arrest.

    Example. If you see a man snatch an old lady’s hand bag you should arrest him.

    There is also the “if it was my 12 year old child”. Citizen arrest maybe. body bag probably.


  11. Well Well & Consequences September 25, 2016 at 1:40 PM #

    “Is it possible that for centuries these people could have some gene which makes them immune to activities for which all others are.”

    It all boils diwn to the leaders, DPP, police and judges/magistrates still being stupid slaves.

    I know I posted this on here already where a judge allowed accuseds…. bail to go back to either Ireland or the UK, they were in jail for kicking a dude to death in the Gap…and this slave on the bench gave them bail to go home for Christmas holidays….I dont want to say that he expected them to return to Barbados…that would be just too much.

    So it’s the slaves in parliament, in the DPPs office, in the police force….to a lesser extent, because these dudes and girls lower down on the tatem pole in the precincts, try to do their jobs…who refuse to imprison people who they are in awe of, who are wealthy and they admire, who bribe them….etc….blame the slaves.


  12. Pachamama September 25, 2016 at 2:12 PM #


    The strict reading of the letter of law, as Bible, is merely an academic or historical pursuit.

    An interpretation of law giving due consideration to all the other factors maybe more helpful. There can be no reading of law that of and by itself is to give us meaning.

    The entrenched injustices that are law can only lead to revolution, internal collapse, the rise of disestablishmentarianism.

    This writer, for example, does not recognize and cannot be made to recognize libel or slander as illegal acts.

    What powers do citizens have if we can’t even talk about alleged or actual acts for which we would otherwise want to arrest those on high.

    This absence of submission gives us an ability to speak about the suspected crimes for which we would want to arrest people but have no practical ability so to do.

    So while Jeff walks around with his lamp seeking the presence of a single honest man/woman the Rome of his laws is burning all around him.


  13. ac September 25, 2016 at 2:50 PM #


  14. millertheannunaki September 25, 2016 at 3:25 PM #

    @ Pachamama September 25, 2016 at 2:12 PM
    “The entrenched injustices that are law can only lead to revolution, internal collapse, the rise of disestablishmentarianism.”

    Of course, Pacha, you are aware that the word “disestablishmentarianism’ is the longest word in the dictionary, right?

    Nothing will change until the world either experiences a massive war of annihilation either biologically, climatologically or manmade nuclear; or as the real Pachamama requires, every 26,000 years or thereabout of solar revolution, a resetting of the paleontological clock.


  15. Pachamama September 25, 2016 at 3:50 PM #



    Antidisestablishmentarianism use to be, we think.


  16. Pachamama September 25, 2016 at 3:51 PM #


    But yes you are otherwise right. About where this will end.


  17. Pachamama September 25, 2016 at 4:43 PM #

    Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis – a word that refers to a lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles, specifically from a volcano; medically, it is the same as silicosis.

    Yes this is now the longest word in the english language.


  18. Hants September 26, 2016 at 12:36 PM #

    @ David,

    American Lawyer in the news.


  19. David September 26, 2016 at 5:13 PM #


    Why do we like to beatup on lawyers so?



  20. Passing thru September 26, 2016 at 7:04 PM #

    [A St Andrew man is set to appear before the District ‘D’ Magistrate Court on multiple offences.
    Kirk Ricardo Skeete, 34, of Baxters, St Andrew has been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, having no Driver’s license, no third party insurance, no road taxes and fraudulent use of number plates.
    Skeete was caught by lawmen yesterday as they were conducting routine checks in the area of Green Land, St Andrew.
    According to police, the accused who was riding a motorcycle tried to evade the officers but was subsequently caught.
    When police searched Skeete, they recovered a firearm and discovered that he had committed a number of traffic violations- Barbados Today]

    This is unsurprising the RBPF who mind you are doing a great job have time and again been told by communities that motorcyclists in particular the ones on the big scrambler bikes who perform reckless wheelies on the highways are either carrying illegal weapons , drugs or both.

    A dragnet to bring down this lawless bunch who ride without helmets and terrify communities is not only urgent it will yield several criminals and curb illegal behavior. As it stands the wheelie cyclists break the law on their uninsured bikes with impunity.


  21. Piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right - INRI September 27, 2016 at 10:50 AM #

    @ Jeff Cumberbatch

    I know that many here consider me to have a bias towards you and have this ammmmm conviction as such relates to your competence and unshakable prowess irrespective of the name or number of the enemy when you believe in a cause.

    You spoke truthfully when you said you know not Chad of the five nines but you know of him but the ole man going stop there “and remain silent where it is best to be silent” Church by the Wayside Quote.

    I was wondering if I could ask you a favour Mr Cumberbatch

    There is a Topic that I would like for you to comment on here with the customary academic astuteness that you accord all of your submissions here.

    “The Power of Recall – An Option for Barbados”

    I have been thinking of asking you that for weeks but I paused to examine my query for a few reasons.

    I examined the “implications ” of the topic and whether (1) was congruent with your practice not to engage in certain subject matters that conflicted with what could be best described as topical and/or contentious issues, (2) issues which were obviously a conflict of interest as they regarded your past, present or future/potential interactions or (3) non utile subject matter which you never entertain.

    De ole man sees this as a subject that, given the options that are available to Bajans in our current political matrices, should be aired by an academic who does not do these emotive submissions like that Researcher fellow or your girlfriend and erstwhile detractor.

    Forgive de ole fellow’s presumption per this matter but I am grappling with the vagaries of life in Barbados @ today and what, if anything, can be done to change this six of one and half dozen of the other mess that we are in 50 years post independence

    And yes Recall might only be a plaster for the sore but, barring sedition and anarchy, what else is there barring the ballot box?


  22. Colonel Buggy September 27, 2016 at 9:36 PM #

    Passing thru September 26, 2016 at 7:04 PM #
    I saw one such rider, a while back, on a busy main road in a densely populated community, wearing a full- faced, comic villain type mask.


  23. Gabriel September 27, 2016 at 10:02 PM #

    Speaking of beating up on lawyers,did BU note that David Bryan was an unsuccessful candidate for the BLP in the just concluded candidate nomination process in St Philip North.


  24. David September 27, 2016 at 10:43 PM #

    Yes Gabriel, we noted how he held his head down to avoid a facial in the Nation pic. But why would he want to avoid his pic splashed all over the daily yet offer himself as a candidate?



  25. Piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right - INRI September 28, 2016 at 12:28 AM #

    @ The Honourable Blogmaster

    Does that mean that his carousel picture which now shows the back of his hear can now be updated?


  26. David September 28, 2016 at 5:03 AM #

    Still not a good shot.


  27. Gabriel September 28, 2016 at 11:37 AM #

    That photo shot was a dead giveaway of shame and guilt.What a way of avoiding the public glare!


  28. Hal Austin September 28, 2016 at 11:40 AM #

    Another unarmed black man shot by police – this time in California. Barbados must not adopt the US model of policing. It is murderous.


  29. David September 28, 2016 at 11:41 AM #

    Why would David Bryan deliberately hide from the photographer in his role posing with the winning candidate,losing candidate and MAM? Maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt that MAM was whispering a nothing in his ear 🙂


  30. Former Client September 30, 2016 at 9:41 AM #

    Stay far away from crooked lawyer Shane Thompson of Holder & Company on Roebuck Street. He is very dishonest and would sell out any client for financial gain. Never ever use this leech


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