Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
THE ISLAND Traffic Authority has said it is issuing more than 1,000 substitute driver's licences per month - a 6,000 per cent increase from a time when the police were involved in investigating claims of loss or stolen licences.
Appearing before a special select committee of the Senate on Wednesday, ITA boss Conrad Ainsworth said it is important that the police be returned to the process in order to protect the integrity of the system.
"There is a parallel system that operates with the official system and when those persons are to go to the police, I am sure they won't have a licence," Ainsworth told the committee.
Head of the police traffic department, Radcliffe Lewis, told the committee the police was removed from the process of investigating claims of loss or stolen licences in 2007.
He said the removal has negatively impacted road safety as several of the persons who apply for replacement drivers licences are persons who have abandoned their licences in the hands of police during spot checks.
Ainsworth said, "prior to the introduction of the new system, we were seeing possibly 200, 300 for the year..." "Since the introduction of the new system with the exclusion of the police and the background checks being done, we have seen it on a yearly basis, a steady increase until it has gotten to an alarming proportion," he added.
The Senate committee was told that the decision to remove the police from the system was made following instructions from the Office of the Prime Minister in 2007.
A 2005 draft document presented from the Cabinet Office, which is said to have informed the decision to remove the police, noted that the procedures for revealing a lost/stolen driver's licence span three agencies, the JCF, Inland Revenue Department and Island Traffic Authority.
TEDIOUS AND TIME-CONSUMING
"The current procedures tend to be quite tedious and time-consuming. Although only one visit is made to the Island Traffic Authority, the process involves several visits to the police station and the tax collectorate," the document said.
There were, however, no data to support the claim made in the document that the process was too tedious.
In the meantime, Joan Wynter, the senior policy officer in the ministry of transport and works, has indicated is support for the police being reintroduced to the system.
The Senate Committee has agreed. The committee was set up to consider and report on a motion, which is said to require action on national policy issues.
Senator Imani Duncan-Price had brought a motion to the Senate regarding the integrity of the system by which driver's licences are issued in Jamaica and, after debate in the Senate, it was referred to the special select committee.