When the Police Certificate of Character office reopens on Monday, it will not be business as usual, Attorney General Dale Marshall has promised.
In fact, Marshall declared that in a matter of weeks, Barbadians would be able to receive their certificates in less than a week of applying and in the longer term, citizens will be able to apply online.
Over the last three weeks, many were inconvenienced when the office, already notorious for its tedious application processes and extended wait times, was temporarily closed down.
While announcing the office would be reopened at the start of next week, the AG indicated tremendous strides have been made over the last few months in the digitisation of court records, which will eventually prevent delays.
“People are rightfully concerned about the fact that you have to schedule appointments and then wait six weeks in order to get a certificate of character. Merchants, employers and a whole raft of individuals in our society obviously rely on these police certificates of character and any challenges represent difficulties for Barbadians,” Marshall admitted, while addressing journalists at the Regional Security System’s Air Wing at Paragon, Christ Church.
“Our administration is determined to bring the issuing time for a certificate of character down to three, four days, but we can only achieve it by digitising all the criminal records.”
Marshall blamed the most recent challenges on technical difficulties relating to the software used by officers. He acknowledged minor backlogs would occur when the office is reopened next week but promised the wait times would still be much shorter than in the past.
In addition, the AG announced that plans are in the pipeline for certificate of character applications to be made from mobile phones and laptops to eliminate the long lines and wait times synonymous with the department.
“I am confident that in weeks and very soon we will be in a position where we will hit that target of having certificates being issued in less than a week after application. The Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, as well as on a software programme, is currently working on the app. These are not ready to be worked on just yet,” he revealed.
Senator Kay McConney, the Minister responsible for innovation confirmed this at another engagement adding that passports, visas, driver’s licences and other services would be digitised in the near future.
“And as these come on stream, there will be a public education programme to make you first aware and also to build your digital intelligence and your capacity to be able to adopt these services on their own,” said McConney.