THE Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is operating with just about half of the vehicles needed to allow the police to cover the island.
According to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Dr Annmarie Barnes, the JCF currently has some 1,554 vehicles in its crime-fighting arsenal. Of that number, approximately 180 are awaiting repairs.
"Of the current fleet that are up and running we have identified... another 40 that we would recommend to be removed but other than that the others are at various stages of operational feasibility," Dr Barnes told the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament examining the findings of a 2012 performance audit report on Tuesday.
"We would like to have a fleet of about 3,000 to adequately service Jamaica. We are working very hard in the ministry to bring the fleet up to a minimum of about 2,000 vehicles that are at least five years and under within the next few years," she told the committee.
In her overview, Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis said the provision of quality services is highly dependent on the JCF maintaining an efficient fleet of vehicles.
"I commissioned a performance audit of the management of JCF motor vehicles to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of its fleet management processes. The Jamaica Constabulary faced financial challenges to obtain the required fleet to enable the efficient and effective execution of its mandate. They, however, failed to implement appropriate systems to ensure proper utilisation of their limited resources to obtain maximum value; weak oversight of the repair and maintenance activity and control over new and used parts resulted in inefficiencies and may facilitate irregularities," Monroe Ellis said.
She said the retention of an aged fleet prevented the Government from earning significant fuel consumption savings, which could have been used to offset costs associated with the acquisition of new vehicles. The auditor general said operational weaknesses highlighted in the report impaired the JCF's ability to ensure the delivery of reliable law enforcement services to the people of Jamaica.
The key findings of the performance audit report showed that "inadequacies in the motor vehicle master inventory prevented the JCF from determining the exact size of its fleet" which prevented "effective and appropriate decisions concerning deployment of vehicles, replenishment needs and acquisitions".
It said the JCF inventory list, consisting of 1,833 vehicles as at June 2012, included duplicated data and incomplete information, for example no engine number was recorded for 358 vehicles and 40 had no chassis number.
The auditor general said of the 710 motor vehicles purchased during the April 2007 to March 2010 period, auditors were unable to identify 194 on the inventory list.
In the meantime, it said the JCF did not have an effective system to manage its inventory of spare parts and that there was a lack of transparency, accountability and oversight of JCF repairs and maintenance activities.
On Tuesday, Dr Barnes said that there was a $370-million budget for vehicle maintenance this year.
In the meantime, she said the ministry had almost fully implemented the recommendations of the Auditor General for the management of police vehicles.
"On the issue of repairs and garages we have done a review of the garages that we use and we now only use approved garages as established by the National Works Agency," Dr Barnes said.