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Divided over cop car data

Jamaica police cars ready for the road.

Jamaica police cars ready for the road.

KINGTON — The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has found itself divided over whether the police should make public the number of service vehicles assigned to different areas at any given time.

A difference of opinion on whether making such figures public constituted a security breach became clear Tuesday following a question by government member of parliament for West Central St. James Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams to members of the Ministry of National Security appearing before the committee this week.

“Do you have on hand what the distribution of the vehicles are and the principles on which you distribute vehicles. For instance, I would like to know how many vehicles are in the Montego Bay area?” Ffolkes-Abrahams asked.

Head of the Services Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Assistant Commissioner of Police Leon Rose, in responding, said the team had not come armed with the information but noted that there was “a matrix that guides the distribution of vehicles” in addition to factors such as demographics and the crime situation in areas.

Government MP for South St. Catherine and committee member Fitz Jackson, speaking on a point of order, pointed out that by convention information about the JCF sensitive to its operation was not discussed.

“To give the response of how much is at any particular location across the country might not serve the JCF well,” Jackson said.

That position was, however, dismissed.

“I totally disagree; there is nothing sensitive about the amount of police vehicles out there that [it] cannot be supplied. That’s rubbish, that can be and should be public knowledge. It’s a very pertinent question,” Opposition member of Parliament for South West St. Catherine Everald Warmington said.

Ffolkes-Abrahams said the risk of keeping the figures under wraps was more of a danger.

“I believe the public has a right to know if they are secure or not, and therefore the public has a right to know if in a particular area vehicles are adequately supplied to that area in order for them to respond.

“On the other hand I understand that it could be sensitive if others are seeking to take advantage, but I think the police are also accountable to the public and must make the public know whether or not a certain area is secured, and us as members of Parliament should know whether or not our constituencies are properly served by the police force,” she said. (Observer)

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