There is a space crisis at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and as a result, vacancies cannot be fulfilled at this time.
This was yesterday disclosed during the sitting of the Joint Select Committee (JSC) of the Parliament on National Security.
JSC member Gerard Ramdeen asked to clarify how many vacancies have been identified. He said based on information given by the DPP in a letter dated August 2018 identified 74 – the sanctioned strength 120, which he said represents 56 per cent vacancies.
However, Prabhawaite Maraj, Director of Personnel Administration corrected Ramdeen identifying 73 vacancies at the Port-of-Spain office.
She noted that they have been ready to fill most of the vacancies but was contacted twice by the DPP, the latest on October 29, instructing them to “put a hold.”
“Because the DPP indicated that there was no space to accommodate extra staff,” Maraj said.
It was also disclosed during the JSC that there are five vacancies for the post of State Senior Counsel (SSC) I and 38 for SSC II. Maraj said these positions can be filled via recommendations by the DPP “so long meet requirements outlined in job descriptions for office.”
Maraj added that there were 25 vacancies for SSC II’s in 2015 and 13 candidates have been appointed. She noted that she is yet to receive recommendations from the DPP.
With respect to the DPP’s office in Tobago, they are currently screening applications.
JSC member Robert Le Hunte questioned if there are any people acting in these positions, to which the deputy Permanent Secretary Dianne George-Thomas replied: “No.”
The question was put to Maraj as to why there aren’t any promotions from within to fill some of the vacancies and that would not warrant additional office space, she explained that appraisals were needed which are usually done three months before a year ends. She also gave an example that SSC’s I need to have appraisals done by their supervisors quarterly and added that they are only privy to the final report.
In addressing the office space issue, JSC member Dr Roodal Moonilal asked if a building has been identified for the Port-of-Spain office, to which he was told “yes” at 19-21 Park Street.
How soon they would be able to move in, he was told that there needs to be work done before occupancy and no time frame given.
JSC Chairman Fitzgerald Hinds and member Paul Richards both expressed their sentiments of “Frustration.”
Hinds said he thought that it was either the system is too slow in hiring and processing and assessing appraisals for the filling of vacancies and added that in the long run it adversely affects the criminal justice system.
However, Maraj insisted that there were processes to follow under Regulation 13.
Reporter: Rhondor Dowlat