Government committed to comprehensive crime fighting strategies -President Granger says root causes must be addressed

(MOTP) Georgetown, Guyana – (October 7, 2016) As the Government continues  to address the incidence of crime in Guyana, the country will be welcome a security advisor from the United Kingdom (UK) next month, who will be working closely with the administration on the implementation of the Security Sector Reform Action Plan (SSRAP). This US$4.7 million project was turned down by the previous administration, when it was first proposed back in 2009.  Describing this as a mistake, the Head of State noted that the development of the security sector is critical to the fight against crime.

Much has been said about the ability of the Force to address the crime situation in the public domain. President Granger, during and interview today, said the Force, which he described as essentially a sound, professional organisation, has not received the attention it deserves in the past. He added that while he is satisfied that the Force has made some headway with regard to solving crime he is not satisfied with the rogue elements, who are not suitable to serve in that capacity.

“More has to be done. We have recruited persons, who turn out to be unsuitable and I have discussed with Minister of Public Security and the Commissioner in the National Security Council that there is need to improve training at the police training school. We need to ensure that the type of persons recruited are not only educationally qualified but attitudinally prepared to do their work in a country like ours,” the Head of State said.

He admitted that there have been instances where policemen have been bribed not to pursue investigations, files have disappeared and where officers tried to extort money from persons, who committed misdemeanours but said that these problems can be overcome by ensuring that there is a more professional police force. “My only regret is that it is taking so long to introduce these reforms. Police have been getting recommendations for over 14 years from the British Government but they were never implemented.  We are going to implement. We are going to make the police force a better force,” the President said.

He also reminded that there are two mechanisms in place for citizens to highlight issues of corruption as far as the police are concerned. These are the Police Complaints Authority, where investigations have led to officers being brought to trial and the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). Alluding to the number of ranks that have recently been fired from the Force, the President Granger said that, “it is as a result of the functioning of these mechanisms that the Commissioner has been able to separate some rogue elements from the Force.” Nevertheless, he noted that in a Force with a strength of 3000, there have not been a large number of miscreants when compared to the total number and that he is satisfied that the Force is on the road to recovery.

Speaking on the number of violent crimes that have been occurring, the President said that the root causes of crime have to be addressed in order for their to be long term results.

President David Granger continues to be directly involved in public security planning, chairing the weekly meeting of the National Security Committee.  The Head of State said that this issue has become a daily preoccupation which his Government and the safety of all Guyanese of of critical concern. He acknowledged that the trafficking in narcotics is a major factor.  To this end the National Anti-Narcotic Agency (NANA) will be set up as the Government looks to work more closely with regional and international partners to address this trans-national crime.

“Crime is very complex, when you deal with crime you have to look at causation, in my view many of the most serious crime arise out of the narcotics trade that is a trade that I think is responsible for bringing drugs into the country and guns.” The President went on to explain that with the volume of money that is generated from the narcotics trade the loyalty of the law enforcement officers and even the magisterial officers came under threat. He said that his Government is working on a broad-base strategy to address crime which would include the setting up of a a national intelligence service.  In addition, Minister of Public Security, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan reported in September that he had completed the drafting of National Drug Strategy Master Plan.

The administration is also working to ensure that the GPF is better equipped and are able to operate in the diverse areas of the country.  President Granger explained that given Guyana’s size and terrain the Force is working to ensure that there are more mounted police in areas like the Rupununi, which cannot be adequately covered by vehicles alone and in certain back dams on the Coast like Black Bush Polder in Corentyne-Berbice, where heinous murders have recently occurred.

“We have to provide the police with improved assets…All-Terrain Vehicles [ATVs] and more river crafts to improve their mobility… I reckon that in the fullness of time we will overcome some of the crime problems we have here,” President Granger said.

In addition to the execution-type murders and gun-running that are the result of the narco-trade, the President lamented the high level of interpersonal violence. President Granger said that interpersonal violence, suicides and violence in schools are social issues which cannot be tackled solely by law enforcement agencies but a collaborative effort, which includes the Ministries of Social Protection and Social Cohesion as well as religious and non-governmental organisations.

“We have to look at social interventions and here we call upon NGOs [non-governmental organisations] and religious communities, the mandirs, the masjids and the churches to help us to deal with the sources of interpersonal conflicts, through counselling and through delivering the sort of message that we are not a violent community and people have to learn to live together… I am very disturbed at violence among school children and at the interpersonal violence between husbands and wives, which sometimes degenerate to arson and murder,” he said.

Turning his attention to road safety, President Granger indicated that the GPF will focus on enforcement to ensure that all road users follow traffic laws and regulations. The campaign, Operation Safeway, which came into force last month, seeks to heighten road safety awareness among all categories of road users. The President said that the Force is ensuring that there are more traffic ranks on the roadways, who are adequately equipped with more speed guns and breathalyser kits and greater patrols in areas where drivers like to speed like West Demerara, West Berbice and the Linden-Soesdyke Highway.

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