The Barbados Police Service (BPS) is still struggling to fill close to 280 vacancies so it can operate at maximum capacity.
And while the service itself receives many applications annually, most of the candidates cannot pass the basic requirements.
Speaking at the Annual Grand Conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Wednesday, Commissioner of Police Richard Boyce said the force was still about 20 per cent short of a full complement.
“At the end of 2021, the strength of the police service stood at 1 252. We also have 48 special constables and 310 civilian staff members. We are operating at a deficit of 278 police officers. The undeniable truth is that police officers will continue to be at risk given the type of duties that they perform daily and some of us may well develop health challenges when this is compounded by our personal and professional circumstances,” said Boyce.
As a result, the Police Service was unable to carry out some key functions, including community policing. In spite of this challenge, Boyce said, they were still able to make a dent in the crime figures, with almost all serious crime showing a double-digit decrease.
“The management of crime, especially serious crime, remain high on our priority list. Firearm crime is of grave concern and various strategies were implemented to solve this problem and resulted in various successes. In 2021, there were 5 320 offences reported, as compared to 7 079 offences in 2020. This represents 23 per cent decrease in overall crime. There was a 22 per cent decrease in murders, from 41 in 2020 to 32 in 2021. Of the 32 murders committed; 53.1 percent were enabled through the use of a firearm,” said Boyce.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Dale Marshall also addressed the conference and said Government was in the process of addressing the tenure and pension entitlements for special constables as well as concerns expressed by island constables. (CLM)