Lower Crime Rates in Communities involved in ‘A’ Division Youth Group Programme

GINA, GUYANA, Monday, January 23, 2017

Seventeen Youth groups from Albouystown, Agricola, Mocha, Golden Grove, Yarrowkabra, Tiger Bay, Sophia and Ruimveldt among others have benefitted from the Youth Group Programmes facilitated by the Police ‘A’ Division; which has resulted in a decrease in the crime rates throughout those communities.

‘A’ Division Commander, Clifton Hicken told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that the Youth Group Programmes were developed to aid in the fight against community crimes and foster better relation between the Police and the communities they serve. “There was a direct link between the youth development and the crime issues because having our presence there is a deterrent,” Hicken noted that in discussions with the youths, they understood the difference between the right and wrong.

Commander Of A Divison Clifton Hicken

Commander Hicken was asked by the Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud to lead the Impact Albouystown project because of his operational experience. Encouraged by the impact on crime, Hicken said that initially within every 24 hours there were nine serious crimes in Albouystown, “however to my surprise after one and a half months the statistical data showed we had moved from nine  serious crime per day to two  crimes per week,” and this was, “encouraging for me as a Superintendent.”

The A Division Commander explained that he spent most of his time in Albouystown to ensure the residents understood the purpose of the police’s presence in an effort to develop the youths. The ‘A’ Division, Hicken said, “had to ensure we rid the imposed leadership that was in Albouystown.”

He noted that the Albouystown Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) cooperated fully, pointing out that the children were more receptive to the leaders of the FBOs. The Corporate sector within the community gave the ‘A’ Division full support because, “they recognised too that if we are there, perpetration of crime on the businesses will be reduced.”

After this success in Albouystown, Hicken said it was then decided that they partner with Agricola because, “Agricola is one of the areas I fight a lot of crime in.” The leaders of came together and worked with the Police bodies and a playfield was developed in Agricola, “I think we won the community support”, he pointed out.

A playfield was then developed in Albouystown. Additionally, thirty one teenagers participated in an initiative which was in collaboration with the Carnegie School of Home Economics.  “All of them (the participants) now are gainfully employed”, Hiken said, they have taken back economic activity to the community.

A section of the gathering last Saturday at the Division Youth Group Brand launching, at the Police Officer’s Annexe, Eve Leary, Kingston

Although the ‘A’ Division is dependent on the businesses for financial support, the Commander noted that as at late 2016 cost effective measures were sought to aid the project. Some of the groups have so far been equipped with, “kitchen utensils, stoves and the rest of it in a proper areas, so that they can cook and feed the children.” The parents trust to allow their children with the community leaders and police officers, “So we want to ensure that they (youths) are comfortable.”

Meanwhile, a letter was sent to the Ministry of Education for use of the schools within close proximity of the community youth groups. These schools are now being used to facilitate the development of the youths. Hicken explained that, “it has a psychological impact because the same schools that the children would have left…now labelling them as delinquents, they are going back  to the school but(now) they are learning something new.” He emphasised that any skill that is recognised in youths should be nurtured and developed. “Every individual has different competencies and everybody may not have the academia but they are specialised.”

The Commander’s first opportunity of working with the youths in ‘A’ Division was in the 2014 Children’s Mashramani competition and float parade, “We were overjoyed to see the children design their own float costume, we won that year and in 2015, we participated again, we were given a trophy because we were beyond the numbers required.”  He has already set his sights for another win the 2017 Children’s Mashramani competition and is excited at their prospects, “We already filled the forms for this years’ competition,” of which the theme will be focused on green energy.

A Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) member reciting a poem at the Division Youth Group Brand launching last Sunday

Meanwhile, plans are on stream to expand the Youth Programme to all communities. However Commander Hicken noted that he does not, “like to do thing drastically,” but explained that, “gradually we are forming a foundation so that we can have our objectives met.”

By Zanneel Williams