7-8 police are AWOL every month; many continue to be paid long after- Brutus

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The Guyana Police Force continues to grapple with a situation where scores of its constables and subordinate officers, on an annual basis, are absent without official leave (AWOL), many with the intent to desert.

Although systems have been put in place to address the issue, lapses in reporting continue to see the force expending millions in overpayment to AWOL ranks, and ranks who have resigned.

A rank is expected to give a six-week notification of any intent to resign, while he/she will be considered AWOL after 72 hours of no contact.

Appearing before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday, Senior Superintendent of Police, Calvin Brutus, said delays in notifying police headquarters and more specifically the accounts department of persons who have been AWOL or would have resigned were among the main reason for overpayment in salaries.

Senior Superintendent, Calvin Brutus

According to the Auditor General’s 2016 report, the Guyana Police Force is still to recover outstanding amounts totaling $2.2M, which were over-paid to employees of the Force for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Brutus assured that, although slow, steps were being taken to both recover the sums and prevent a recurrence.

He said the force was still dealing with getting officers to report in a timely manner. Since August 2020 ranks who are responsible for this level of reporting have been making phone calls, as paper reporting continues to take time in some instances.

Brutus, responding to recommendations for an emailing system to be put in place, said it was not feasible, but promised to further consider the idea for later implementation.

The Senior Superintendent said currently ranks who are found to be guilty of a dereliction of duty are being surcharged. It would entail simply the issuance of warning letters; this Brutus said has been effective in ensuring timely reporting.

Providing specific numbers, Brutus said some seven to eight ranks are reported AWOL on a monthly basis, the majority of which are junior staff.

Several recommendations for addressing the issue flowed from PAC members, but Brutus believes that even with the most stringent of steps there will be room for human error.

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