Limitations on joining the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) such as tattoos and age may soon be a thing of the past.
That is according to Attorney General Dale Marshall who says the RBPF’s top brass had already been instructed to step up its recruitment drive and such adjustments in limitations might be required if the force is to attract more young people.
Marshall said similar to how then Attorney General Mia Mottley had lowered the height requirement to become a police officer, other changes could soon be coming.
“We have a policy in place of no tattoos because of the possibility that the tattoos can be indicators of particular gang allegiances, so the BDF, police and the prison, they all have a policy. Sometimes it’s enforced sometimes it’s not.
“Maybe we need to get away from that . . . we may have to rethink that. If you treat these things as fixed in stone, then you don’t make changes when you need to,” Marshall said as he addressed a gathering during a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) constituency meeting at St Christopher’s Primary last night.
Marshall revealed that there were currently only 18 recruits at the Regional Police Training School.
“Now what does that tell you about the long-term viability of the police force in terms of maintaining the strength that it needs?
“We are now looking at the possibility of increasing the age because the cutoff age now is 30. Maybe the time has come where we should start to ask ourselves what is the magic about 30? . . . We have to review how we police, we have to use technology more and in order to increase that number from 18 to 80 we have to start thinking more about the cutoff points that we have, whether it is age or tattoos, because we simply need to be able to attract more people,” the Attorney General maintained.
Marshall said young people no longer saw the police force as a viable career choice and government needed to find a way to make policing an attractive option.
“It is a fact that we have challenges recruiting our young men and women to the force . . . . Today we find that we cannot attract people to the force in the numbers that we used to.
“We simply need to have more recruits coming into the force because we need to have that continuity. We have to start thinking of ways and means to start having our young men and women interested in the police force as a career,” Marshall insisted.
He said while persons were talking about offering higher salaries, that was a challenge for Government at the present time. However, he added, that whatever resources the force had needed to be put to good use.
He said redeploying officers from some duties was also on the cards.
“There are a number of departments that are staffed by police officers such as the police certificate of character office, where there is no need for them.
“I cannot be complaining that we do not have any policemen on the ground when I have half a dozen or a dozen on the ground processing requests,” Marshall said, while recounting how police used to issue driving tests and passports at one point before those jobs were given to civilians.