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Slow processing of police records hurting BPO sector

Thursday, October 10, 2019

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OPPOSITION spokesman on science, technology and information, Julian Robinson, yesterday warned that a number of jobs are at risk as employers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector have not been able to get police records to clear potential employees for hiring.

Robinson concern comes against the background of the recent closure of the Criminal Records Office (CRO) to facilitate a relocation after its Duke Street location was shut down due to air quality concerns.

The CRO has since resumed operations from 6-8 Orange Street in downtown Kingston, but is only facilitating five-and 21-day services at this time.

Robinson pointed to the abrupt closure of the office on September 19 as the reason for the problem potential BPO employees and employers now face.

“Even though the office has reopened there is such a large backlog that hundreds of employees cannot be confirmed in their positions,” he said, noting that people who need reports for travel, and other security verification have also been affected.

The technology spokesperson also argued that the country's reputation as a place to do business was being affected and that some BPO jobs may be lost permanently. “Without the confidence that their employees do not have criminal records, employers will shift the jobs to other locations. The crisis with the Criminal Records Office has come at a time when employers are ramping up hiring for their peak season,” he stated.

He said that the Government must use more of the $800 million that the CRO generates in revenue annually to upgrade the capacity of the office.

“We need to look at off-site fingerprinting at divisional headquarters, a permanent office in Montego Bay, and systems that make it easier for citizens and businesses to get their police reports,” Robinson said.

He insisted that the ministers of national security and technology must urgently address this critical issue to safeguard the jobs of Jamaicans.

At a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) on October 3, Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson was asked to report to Cabinet on an infrastructure plan, given that the council acknowledged that there was an infrastructure deficiency at the new location. The NSC is chaired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Yesterday, President of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) Gloria Henry confirmed, in a Jamaica Observer interview, that the organisation's membership has been complaining about delays with police reports.

“Some of our members have asked the BPIAJ to make representation on their behalf because of the fact that they were not able to get the reports needed to complete the hiring process.

Henry noted that she could not speak to an overall number of jobs affected, but that one company indicated that based on its projections over 1,500 reports are outstanding, while another said there were less than 100.

— Alphea Saunders


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