UPDATE: RNC gun policies examined

James
James McLeod
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RNC Deputy Chief Ab Singleton was in the House of Assembly Tuesday morning answering questions about the police force's policies for handling firearms. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

It was a fairly collegial tone in the Public Accounts committee this morning, as politicians were questioning officials with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary about their policies on firearms.

It seemed like it was less about serious concerns over police officers' handling of there guns, and more about reassuring the public that everything is safe.

In the January Auditor General's report, then-Auditor General Wayne Loveys identified concerns when it came how the RNC handled guns in its custody.

Loveys reported that the police were not following their own firearms policies; the RNC could not provide documentation of annual firearms audits, and quarterly firearms storage locker inspections were not being conducted.

The Corner Brook and Labrador West armouries could not account for all of the items under their control.

The discrepancies could largely be chalked up to problems on paper, deputy chief Ab Singleton explained.

“We recognize the findings of the auditor general and we take them seriously,” Singleton said.

He said part of the problem was a gap when the RNC had no audit and compliance manager, and they were trying to fill the position right when the Auditor General came calling.

Singleton said somebody was hired in January, and has been working since then to fix the issues.

PC MHA Kevin Parsons said the concerns are around “public safety and public perception” but he was happy with what he heard from the RNC, and he's convinced they're taking things seriously.

“Other hearings there's a lot of financial stuff, monies and whatnot, but this had nothing to do with the financial part, it was mainly to do with the safety part of the RNC and making sure that the inventory counts were in place,” Parsons said. “They were serious problems. Any time where there's a firearm that's not in inventory or if there's some ammunition that's not accounted for, that's very serious to the general public. But it was great this morning to hear their explanations.”

New Democrat MHA Christopher Mitchelmore said it didn't even really matter that the current situation involves guns. He said as far as he's concerned, all government departments need to make their record-keeping a priority.

“Whether it was the RNC or whether it was another government entity, I think it's important to make sure the departments and the agencies are doing their job,” he said.

The Public Accounts Committee has held several public hearings in the past few months, after years of inactivity.

Chairman and Liberal MHA Jim Bennett agreed with Mitchelmore's sentiment, and said that government departments should be on notice that the committee will be scrutinizing public spending, and record keeping.

“We'll be here, we'll be following up with the Auditor General's report every single year and pretty near every month,” Bennett said. “We're the watchdog, so that's what we're doing.”

This afternoon, the Public Accounts Committee is looking into issues with administering provincial lotteries, which were identified by Loveys in his January report.

In 2009-10, the division issued a total of 3,249 licences, with gross proceeds of $54.1 million, resulting in net proceeds - after prize payouts and expenses - of $11.2 million.

"We found that: licence applications were not being approved by the appropriate people, applications with incomplete or outdated information were approved, licences with unapproved intended uses of proceeds were approved and required business plans were not received with applications," Loveys' report said.

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Earlier story

Members of the Public Accounts Committee are in the House of Assembly this morning, looking into issues with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary's handling of firearms.

In the January Auditor General's report, then-Auditor General Wayne Loveys identified concerns when it came to how the RNC handled guns in its custody.

Loveys reported that the police were not following their own firearms policies; the RNC could not provide documentation of annual firearms audits, and quarterly firearms storage locker inspections were not being conducted.

The Corner Brook and Labrador West armouries could not account for all of the items under their control.

MHAs will be meeting today and tomorrow to discuss a range of different issues identified by the auditor general.

The Telegram will provide updates online and in the newspaper.

Organizations: Public Accounts Committee

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Labrador West

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  • Gerry
    October 16, 2012 - 09:27

    and yet the publc can be charged and jailed for improper storage of firearms and ammunition in their own homes....'do as I say, not as I do'......