Thu | Oct 19, 2017

Informers wanted - As calls to hotlines dip, J'cans urged to report corruption

Published:Thursday | June 15, 2017 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson

Despite at least two dedicated telephone systems where persons can call anonymously and report cases of corruption, Jamaicans are staying silent and not blowing the whistle.

The Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) and the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) both operate secure and confidential telephone lines, where persons can report acts of dishonesty, but they are just not ringing as often as expected in a country where the practice is rampant.

"Earlier, when we set it up, there were far more calls, but shortly after that, it levelled out," head of MOCA, Assistant Commissioner of Police Selvin Hay told The Gleaner recently.

"When it had a greater media presence, it got quite a number of call - more than 100. Then we took a nosedive because it wasn't so present in the minds of the public."

According to Hay, MOCA is expecting the number of calls to increase, with the rollout of new communication tools in coming months.

 

HALF YIELD FRUIT

 

Between January and June 1 this year, only 35 calls were made to the 1-800-corrupt (1-800-267-7878) hotline, while only 70 persons called in with information last year. This was 11 fewer calls than in 2015 when 81 persons dialled the hotline with information.

Hay said that while all calls are documented, only an average of 50 per cent give the cops tangible information, while the others provide information that is used in analysis.

Calls to the 1-800-Corrupt hotline are answered offshore by foreigners trained to understand certain nuances of the Jamaican dialect.

The assistant commissioner of police said that a large number of the calls are about lottery-scamming rackets in the western parishes.

In the meantime, Professor Trevor Munroe, executive director of National Integrity Action, has bemoaned the low number of calls to the OCG and urged the public to get more involved in the fight against corruption.

"Before we can get to innovation, we have to use what we have. The Office of the Contractor General has a hotline where we can report corruption anonymously, and you know how many calls were made between January and April this year? Thirty-two," said Munroe.

"We need to use what we have. Not many other countries have that facility. And these are reports that you can make without naming yourselves. You only have to give the information."

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com