Aug 17, 2015 News
– US, int’l law enforcement agencies also being consulted
Minister of State Joseph Harmon has revealed that efforts to re-engage the United Kingdom for their help in fighting crime have been showing great promise.
Also, overtures are being made to the United States for help with law enforcement.
This was conveyed during a press briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency last week, during which Harmon gave an update on the security sector of the country and what is being done to improve the efficiency of the Guyana Police Force.
Harmon stated that international help is being provided to the Force. This help, according to Harmon, is forthcoming from foreign law enforcement agencies and includes “training and improving the capabilities of local police in crime scene investigations.”
In particular, the Minister stated that the Government has been actively engaging the British in reviving the Security Sector Reform Program (SSRP) which had been launched in 2007 but subsequently scrapped two years later.
Harmon lashed out at the previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration, noting that the British-funded program had been scrapped by the then Government owing to their reservations over requests from the British for more oversight of the initiative.
“We have re-engaged the British and other agencies and we have had good responses from those countries so far,” the Minister said.
In addition, Harmon announced that key Government officials have been formulating security policies, through weekly meetings of the National Security Committee.
“Government has put together a National Security Committee, comprising the Chief of Staff, Commissioner of Police, Minister of Legal Affairs, the Prime Minister, Ministers of Public Security and State and Head of the National Intelligence Committee,” Harmon stated.
According to Harmon, the Committee is mandated to meet on a weekly basis, where the crime statistics and the methodology employed by the police to fight crime are reviewed.
“And then we assist in the allocations of resources to the police to deal with these matters,” he explained.
Harmon also revealed that the draft security plan, which is currently with the Minister of Public Security, will be released within a few weeks.
“He is reviewing it and in due course, we will make that plan known to the public,” Harmon stated.
The plan includes increased resources for the police force, to enhance its ground, air and river response capabilities.
The Minister noted that elements of the plan have already been put in place, since the unpredictable nature of crime meant that the Government “cannot wait until the master plan is put out before we start responding to things that are happening on the street.”
Apart from the proposed plans to deal with the situation, Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan has implemented new measures, including the 2:00am curfew for nightspots and bars, as well as deploying vehicles that were earmarked for Community Policing Groups to the Police Force to bolster their fleet of patrol vehicles.
Police re-organization and training is also part of the new strategy.
The resuscitation of the Police Marine Wing to give them greater flexibility and greater access to inland waterways is an important feature of the new government’s strategy.
One of the most innovative measures to deal with the rising crime, as announced by the Government, has been the use of animals.
Harmon also alluded to a greater level of coordination between law enforcement agencies, including the sharing of intelligence and crime statistics.
“We believe that with this and the other measures likely to be put in place when the plan is unveiled, we’ll be able to get to the root of this crime situation.”
A sum of $21B was allocated for the security sector by the government. Out of that, $11.9B will support the operations of the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Prison Service, Guyana Fire Service, Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), while $9.1B has been budgeted for the Guyana Defence Force.
These allocations, according to Finance Minister Winston Jordan, will be used to improve the physical infrastructure, upgrade the security fleet, acquire tools and equipment, and upgrade the security features of machine-readable passports.
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