Sunday, April 21, 2024

AWRIGHT DEN: A waste of time


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IT SEEMS LIKE the majority of people I have spoken to and who have applied for a police certificate of character, all share a negative view of the process.

On December 20, I posted this question on my Facebook page: Does anyone know if there is an appointment system to apply for a police certificate of character . . . ? Here were some of the responses:

“Trust me. Get there for 5:30 a.m.”; “Pack a picnic basket”; “Bring entertainment”; “Prepare to spend half a day”; “Pure waste of time”; “Closes at 12 . . . it literally is the most excruciating process in Barbados”; “They close off at 11 for applications”.

Interestingly, no one answered my question and I assume this was so because the name police certificate of character struck a nerve and immediately people just used the opportunity to vent.

Bright and early on Monday, December 21, I got on the 9 o’clock bus and made my way to apply for my certificate. I arrived at 9:30 a.m. to find people waiting on the steps, through the corridor, outside the door and in the waiting room. I went to the counter and was given an application form marked No. 87.

After sitting for almost an hour and a half, I started to feel really sick since I was battling the flu, so I went into Town to a pharmacy, made it back before midday and by 1:10 p.m., I was processed.

Seventeen days later, I returned for my certificate. When I was entering the building, I overheard a man speaking to a lady. He said: “Imagine I leff home at 5 to get here and by 7, the line was all down by the lights and I only get number 38.” The place was packed. I arrived at 9:50 a.m. and left with the certificate at 9:58; I was shocked.

As I was leaving, people were arriving and were informed by those on the stairs that they weren’t issuing anymore certificate applications because they had reached 100 already.

I decided to speak to one of the women sitting on the stairs and she said she came on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. and Wednesday at 7 a.m. and didn’t make the hundred. She came Thursday at 7 a.m. and pulled a number in the 80s. She said that before 7:30 it seems the 100 was reached.

What is just sad and ridiculous is that this has been the modus operandi for years, as I understand it, and nothing or little is being done to make it more efficient and comfortable for applicants.

That lady who pulled in the 80s would have sat for about four to five hours just to take a picture, be fingerprinted and processed. ridiculous!

This process contributes significantly to the high unproductivity levels in this country. Imagine an employee has to take a day off from work to apply for an application. Could you imagine if the lady who came three times was an employee? She would have missed three days of work. What if she was unemployed and asked someone to keep her child for the day while she went to apply? Who would keep the child the other two days? What if she had appointments the other days?

We live in a technological age and in my opinion, a person should be able to submit their personal information and apply online, walk in the following day, go to a processing officer who pulls up their submitted information after being shown proof of identification, be fingerprinted and photographed, the database searched and based on the information found, a certificate is issued immediately.

Also, why is there only one place to apply for a certificate? Why can’t this process be done at district police stations or other locations across the island?

Although the Government Information Service (GIS) website informs the public that the application form for the certificate of character can be downloaded from, when one clicks the URL, there is no such website. If this facility was available, it would have caused great confusion, since you wouldn’t get a number when the form is downloaded, which meant that when you showed up for processing, you would be back at square one. GIS, please update your information.

I would ask that the Commissioner of Police, the Ministry of the Public Service and the National Productivity Council to look into this matter to see how they can make the process more efficient and also more comfortable for all involved.

Corey Worrell, a former Commonwealth youth ambassador, is director of C2J Foundation Inc., a project-based NGO focusing on social development. Email


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