As calls become more desperate from the private sector, business community as well as the many concerned citizens for the government to act on the escalating crime, it is clear to the populace that the crime situation is out of control. Therefore as a citizen who pays a fair and decent share of tax, I am entitled to express my disappointment, discomfort and disgruntlement with the criminal activities that are plaguing our country; more so in the urban areas. We call on the government to act in a forthright, strategic, results oriented, and holistic way.
I speak as a businessman whose business has been adversely affected in many ways by both blue and white collar criminals. From the standpoint of “Who feels it, knows it”, I am most depressed and troubled that crime continues to trouble our citizens. I am also perplexed that the crime statistics are not in accordance with the average man experience.
This crime situation is nothing new, and even with the last government it was poorly handled. During the Jagdeo / Ramotar era whenever the private sector or other influential buddies of the PPP raised crime concerns, the government (who held the private sector close to its bosom) would only deal with these in a piece meal manner to quell their concerns but not widely to resolve the issues.
The then government would meet with the police hierarchy and relay their bosom- buddies’ concerns. The police in turn sporadically acted up and dealt with the known rogue elements of various notorious neighborhoods that were affected. The government got the business sector off their backs, but obviously the masses, which were affected by the crime spree, suffered. And of course we are all aware of the phantom extra judicial experience.
On the other hand, the current government is lethargic and sometime impotent in dealing with crimes, and for this country’s sake, I hope they do not turn a blind eye to it. The police are left as it should to run itself in an autonomous way but obviously the Government must demand results in a targeted and strategic manner. I am sure if the Government conducts some critical analysis of crime or maybe a simple survey of the population to better understand their (the people) fear of crime, their finding would serve the citizenry well and obviously improve people’s perception of how crime is handled by the administration.
I am not part of the government or the police, but in my layman’s terms and opinion, the following questions would dictate a direction on a way to reduce the spiraling crime madness.
1. Which class of society (lower, middle or upper) is more affected by crime?
2. What percentage of business are affected and by what types of crimes?
3. What percentage of crimes, are still not reported. And why?
4. Has the populace got confidence in the force?
5. When perpetuators of crimes are caught, are the evidence, reports, fingerprints handled in a most professional and competent way?
6. What scale are the police and army infiltrated by criminal elements?
7. Is any form of surveillance done on known criminals?
8. What penalty is there for corruption in the armed forces?
9. Does a witness have any police protection? And even if they do, will the witness trust them?
10. Are police prosecution cases compromised by the low income of the police force?
11. Are many court cases decision decided by bribery?
12. Can the prosecution cases, even when they have conclusive evidence stand against a high battery of lawyers?
13. What is the probability of criminals being let off the hook when they are caught?
14. Are criminals emboldened to repeat crimes because they continue to be let off the hook?
In recent times I have noticed that Leaders/Politicians are appealing for the non-politicizing of crime. This is obviously a distraction by leaders to excuse the impact of crime in Guyana instead of recognizing that there is indeed a problem that needs to be fixed. Additionally there are many instances where the armed forces are linked or participate in the crime itself. They (Police or Army) have been infiltrated with criminal elements due to association, relation or plain violation of work ethics.
Crime obviously is having an adverse effect on our economy and more importantly the citizenry. It is therefore the Government’s ability to recognize and obviously determine courses of action and act in a focused way to resolve this crime scourge of our country. Put long term programs in place such as channel the necessary human and financial resources, to ensure a professional attitude is cultivated in a motivated police force. Develop a capable judicial system instead of investing so much energy in infrastructure projects that many of our people will not have the peace of mind to enjoy.
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