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Sierra Leone News: Police Interpol Unit-East rendered incapacitated

The Auditor General in her 2017 Annual Report faulted Sierra Leone Police – Eastern Region Interpol Unit saying that the unit responsible for crimes such as drugs and illegal border activities lacked important equipment such as communication sets, computers, scanners and printers.  In addition, the Unit was without patrol vehicle and motorbikes for it operations, in his response to the audit query, Deputy Regional Commander Christian Williams agreed with the auditors comments “we are not capacitated from the Headquarter” he said. The Commander was responding to questions from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Hearings in Kenema last week. On what he intends doing regarding the said query he replied that “I am sure they may have written to headquarter as I am new in this division but it has not been forthcoming, but will follow up on the recommendations of the Auditors” he promised.  A new building he said is currently being erected to correct the audit recommendation regarding the Anti-Robbery Unit which was made up of two make-shift structures that were not conducive for the police personnel attached to the Unit.  The Police Armoury with cracked walls had also been repaired according to him, as the auditors observed that the arms and ammunitions store was in a deplorable condition. In addition, the ammunitions were kept in an office instead of an armoury which could be easily broken into by unauthorised persons. Deputy PAC Chairman Hon. Lahai Marrah said that these types of queries needed proactive action as armed robbers can break into it and attack officers on duty, “you have to be proactive as these are serious matters where ammunitions are stored.” The Committee have decided to engage the Infrastructure Department of the Police as several issues were identified by the auditors regarding the Barracks that cuts across all the regions. Some of the issues relate to the lack of officers in charge to supervise the activities in the barracks, illegal occupants were in the police barracks such as families of police officers who were above 18years, illegal structures for dwelling were built by police officers without authorisation and civilians were leaving in those illegal structures. Similarly also, there were illegal business structures were in the police barracks without authorisation, encroachment was observed as the police barracks was without a perimeter fence and inadequate toilet facility, water and electricity supply was observed in the entire police barracks. The Police Hospital was also challenged due to lack of sufficient beds for patients in the hospital, chairs and benches for nurses, patients and visitors. There is lack of incinerator to dispose of medical waste, proper toilet facility, water and electricity supply and insufficient drugs/medical allocations to the police hospital. It was also discovered that the head of the hospital that is a Community Health Officer (CHO) and ranked Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), was without a quarter in the police barracks and there were no cleaners in the hospital. It was therefore recommended that the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) should ensure that the offices and the general environment are in good working conditions that meet health & safety standards. He should also appoint a committee to look into these issues at the police barracks and find ways to resolve them.

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Wednesday April 10, 2019.

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