There have been bitter complaints from members of the public ever since the Police Records application process was moved online. Many persons complained that after applying online for the document, in some instances they were made to wait more than two months before receiving their them.
As a result, NEWLINETCI reached out to the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force to get a better understanding of what was causing the backlog.
Earlier this week, Police Commissioner Trevor Botting responded, telling us that his department has been working to get to a place where the process would take 14 days.
The following is the police commissioner’s response:
I wish to update you regarding the service we are providing for the provision of Police Records.
The RTCIPF is committed to providing the best possible service for those who require a police record. We recognise the service we provide is important to our communities and we are working to enhance the customer experience for the application and collection process as well as completing the process in a reasonable and consistent timeframe.
As part of our work to improve the service, on the 1st of August 2021, we took an ambitious step of providing an online application process. This development supports one of our strategic objectives to optimise technology and the current Government’s e-government ambitions.
Whilst we are pleased with the process overall, we have encountered some challenges with the timeframe for the delivery of the records.
With regards to the application process, this is now available completely online with supporting documents being uploaded as part of the online process. We have estimated that the online option saves between 3 to 5 visits to the Police Records Office and of course the application can be submitted at any time of the day. The enhanced convenience for the applicant is a key part of the improved service delivery we were seeking, and this seems to be working well.
Overall, we have received good feedback on the online application process and the enhanced service and convenience this brings.
However, since the online option became available, the length of time applicants has had to wait for their completed document has lengthened and we acknowledge that this has reached a timeframe that is not acceptable. We know this has led to frustration and concerns by those applying for records with waiting times extending to 8-12 weeks. This is not the service we wanted or planned to provide, and we are sorry for the delays in getting the records to applicants with such a long waiting time.
By way of explanation, the Police Records Team has somewhat been overwhelmed by the demand for Police Records which, in the first six months of online operation has shown an increase in demand of over 400%. Whilst we made provisions to deal with an increase in applications; such a significant increase was neither predictable nor anticipated.
I want to reassure you that we are fixing the problem through additional staffing hours being available to process the applications and as we now understand the demand better, we are working to match our resources to that demand to ensure we provide a timely service to applicants.
Whilst we do that work, I would be grateful for the publics’ patience, and I want to reassure you that we are working hard to reduce the backlog. Any current applications will be processed as soon as we are able to, and I am confident that the timeframe for the completion of the certificate will reduce week on week. We will be closely monitoring this.
Going forward, we are aiming to get back to a consistent level of service in the next 30 days. Once the back log has been cleared, we are aiming to complete the Police Records within 21 days of a completed application being submitted and proof of payment received.
However, we are ambitious in providing the best possible service so once we understand the online demands better and refine our process, we would wish to reduce the completion time to 14 days and further updates will be provided as to the progress in this area.
We do understand the importance of the service we provide in supplying Police Records, and we are committed to providing the best service possible. Overall, the online application process seems to be working well. It has certainly reduced the number of in person visits to the Police Records Office and there is no doubt the online option is a more customer focused process in terms of convenience. We know that the current timeframe for completion of Police records, caused by the extraordinary surge in demand is simply too long and we apologize for this.
It is being rectified and I am confident that we are a short time away of providing a customer focused application process. We will also be engaging our customers more often in the future to ensure that our police records service is meeting the needs of the public and would appreciate feedback during that process. Thank you for your patience, it is appreciated.