– urged their enlistment as Regular Police to make up shortfall
After more than six years of existence questions are beginning to arise about the usefulness of the Neighbourhood Police or NPs as they are commonly referred to.
The questions are coming at a time when the Guyana Police Force prepares to part company with the Strategic Management Department, the civilian body that was overlooking the implementation of its Reform Programme.
Some members of the Force want the same to be done with the NPS another civilian-oriented body.
The ranks believe that the Neighbourhood Police, which was introduced by former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, with the aim of supporting the regular law enforcement, has also outlived its usefulness, with operatives drawing taxpayers’ money without lifting a finger.
Regular police ranks are suggesting that unlike the Community Policing Groups, who readily provide voluntary assistance to the Force, the Neighborhood Police, who are mostly females, have now become very reluctant and complacent, although they are receiving a monthly salary similar to a regular Police Constable.
Reports such as neglect of duty and compromise have surfaced and there is the suggestion that since the Guyana Police Force is severely under-strength, a concerted effort should be made urgently to encourage NP’s to enlist as regular police ranks.
At the beginning of 2015, there was a total of 312 Neighbourhood Police serving in six Police Divisions and with a monthly salary of $51,000, the government is forking out over $15M ever month.
The primary role of the Neighbourhood Police is to file out into their respective communities and assist the police in warning persons, serving summons and providing back-up on in matters of misdemeanors. They also have powers of arrest.
However, unlike the regular police ranks, who work a 12 hour shift system, the Neighbourhood Police are only required to work during the day.
They are provided with uniforms and are expected to report to the Subordinate Officer at the station in their community, who will detail them in keeping with the work that is required.
But regular police ranks are maintaining that the NPs are no help to the Force and in many cases they are accused of compromising the security of the police stations they serve.
“The Community Policing Groups, who do voluntary work are more helpful. You just have to call them and they are ready. Not so with the NPs; they are barefaced. They come in the morning, book their time and you don’t see them till the next day, and they have the temerity to ask for day off,” said a senior police official on the West Coast of Berbice, where a significant number of NPs are employed.
He noted a case in point was on Easter Monday last when a number of Neighbourhood Police refused to turn up for work.
The situation is further amplified at the Mahaicony Police Station where there are a whopping 33 NPs compared to eight General Duty ranks, who are tasked with manning the facility on a shift system.
“Let the Minister say why at Mahaicony there are 33 NPs who are collecting taxpayers’ money to do absolutely nothing. The government fired several persons and even closed down sugar estates; they have to do the same with the NPs. They are young enough to enlist in the regular Police Force,” another official on the East Coast of Demerara stated.
Since the Force’s age of enlistment is between 18-35 years old, some of the NPs might not be eligible.
But that’s no problem, according to the official, since there is always an opportunity for them to enlist in the Special Constabulary.
But according to a high ranking officer of the Force, the problem with the alleged non-cooperation of the NP’s has to do with a lack of proper supervision.
“It is the police’s responsibility to guide them. But instead they are being left to themselves,” the official said.
He told this newspaper that it is unfair to label all Neighbourhood Police ranks as non-cooperative.
“I had some NPs working under me who did excellent work. When the regular police ranks could not find a person to serve a warrant, it was the NPs who assisted the police because they know their communities and the residents well,” he said, although acknowledging that there might be the need for some review of the work of the Neighbourhood Police.
But some ranks are adamant that there is nothing much the NPs can do to assist the Force in the present arrangement.
“There is nothing much that 33 NPs at one police station to do. They are far more than the regular ranks, who have to carry the bulk of the workload for the same money the NPs are getting,” another police rank said.
As for the ministry of public security, an official there told this newspaper that recruitment of Neighbourhood Police has been shelved for several years now and there is no immediate intention to recruit more.
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