Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite. (FP)
Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite, has expressed his dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs regarding some areas of the Royal Barbados Police Force, while giving the assurance that other areas were being addressed by Government.
He voiced his opinion as he delivered the feature address which covered a wide range of issues affecting police officers during the Annual General Meeting of the Barbados Police Association at the Prince Cave Hall, District “A” Complex.
One of the areas receiving the Minister’s attention was the Force’s Human Resource Department. He noted that as it was presently structured, it was not “fit for purpose”.
“We need a Human Resource Department that is able to identify and maintain strategies which make the Force an attractive place for employment; fills vacant posts in a timely manner without diluting the standards necessary to achieve quality employment; provides opportunities for employee recognition; provides career development through the provision of opportunities for continued education and career tracking among other services,” Mr. Brathwaite said, noting this was not a criticism of the present staff.
However, he revealed that recent recruitment drives were making headway as more males and young people with the skills necessary to fight crime were being attracted to the Force.
At the same time, he described the inability to promote police officers as being “untenable”, despite efforts by the Police Service Commission to make some acting appointments.
“Having so many acting appointments in an institution such as yours does us no good and is an untenable situation and one that has to be addressed with some alacrity… It has been outstanding for too long and is causing untold damage to the rank and file and the general membership of the Royal Barbados Police Force,” the Minister lamented.
However, he commended lawmen for their continued commitment to ensuring the safety of residents despite these challenges and bemoaned the lack of employee recognition for their efforts. “I believe that we need to find some way to let our people know that we appreciate their efforts especially when they are going beyond the call of duty,” he said.
He added that police officers continued to receive training locally, regionally and internationally through the assistance of various entities including the United States government, The People’s Republic of China, the Organisation of American States, CARICOM and CITCE.
“Officers are currently undertaking a leadership development course at the International Law Enforcement Academy which will train the officers in counter terrorism, border issues, narcotics and criminal and financial investigations,” he said.
Meanwhile, lawmen were recently trained in the areas of money laundering and terrorist financing; firearm and tool examination; protection and detail briefing; cybercrime; human trafficking and migrant smuggling in the Caribbean; and as assessors in the Financial Action Task Force.
On a positive note, Mr. Brathwaite said he was aware of amendments made to the Police Act in 2001 that allowed lawmen to associate with trade unions. He said while in principle he had no problem with this, he needed to ascertain the reason it has not been not proclaimed.
“I will speak with the Acting Commissioner of Police and ensure that he makes it easy for you to attend meetings,” Mr. Brathwaite said, while reminding officers that their first responsibility was to the Force.
He added that following discussions in Cabinet last week, a number of housing units were also allocated for qualified police officers at various housing projects under the Ministry of Housing and Lands.
As it relates to police stations, Mr. Brathwaite said the Criminal Investigations Department will be housed in the old Barbados Tourism Authority building for the next two years.
In addition, work on the new police stations at Arch Hall, St. Thomas and Hastings, Christ Church would continue, along with renovations of the old Black Rock Station and male barracks at the Central Police Station.
He added that they were also in the early stages of designs for a new station at Boarded Hall, St. George and a new police headquarters at Wildey, St. Michael.