Government is not agreeing with assertions of the Chamber of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that the police are lacking in investigative capacity.
On Friday, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, was questioned about it and he is making it clear that the Guyana Police Force and its arms are receiving an increased number of training sessions, both local and overseas.
The evidence is coming out…more serious crimes are being solved and brought before the court. And this would come as the police continue to build more on intelligence gathering and collaborations at the community levels.
The police Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), which investigates financial crimes, came under scathing criticisms from the DPP, the independent Chambers which give advice on criminal cases.
SOCU cases have to go to the Chambers. In one case, SOCU reportedly complained about delays over a file involving the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry, thus incurring the wrath of the DPP.
It would be a major quarrel as the unit is investigating one of its biggest cases to date…where US$500M, handled by the Guyana Rice Development Board, went during the last administration of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic. That party was voted out in a close race in May 2015, sending in the David Granger administration.
Several officials of the GRDB have been charged, including sitting Parliamentarians, in related cases.
In her criticisms of SOCU, DPP’s spokesperson, Liz Rahaman, minced no words in raising
questions about the capacity of the unit.
She said that SOCU needs to focus on doing quality investigations before sending files to the Chambers for legal advice, because charges are based on “evidence and not on wild recommendations”.
”In doing quality investigations, they must obtain the relevant evidence in relation to the ingredients of the offences they are investigating. After they have obtained the quality evidence, only then should a credible investigator recommend a charge. Once all the evidence is there to support the offences being investigated, charges are recommended.”
According to the DPP Chambers, the Criminal Justice System is receiving assistance from the Governments of Canada and the USA through the Justice Education Society (JES).
”The focus of this is to ensure that there are quality investigations done and completed before charges are instituted. The objective of this is to control the backlog that the criminal justice system has been overburdened with for many years now. This overburdening is resulting in the miscarriage of justice.”
The salvo by the DPP Chambers would be highly unusual.
However, the administration is clearly at odds with the DPP.
According to Harmon, note has been taken of the recent “broadside” by the DPP of SOCU, a police arm.
He said that there has been significant training on general policing, information technology, cyber security, cyber investigation, financial investigation, human trafficking, and the list goes on.
He said that it has been recognised that police are solving more serious crimes and bringing them to the level of court.
This is all thanks to better intelligence gathering and improved citizens’ involvement, at the communities’ level.
He urged citizens to play a more integral role as they know who the bad eggs are in the communities.
With regards to SOCU, in defending the unit, Minister Harmon said that there is about 37 years of experience there in crime fighting, including money laundering. There has been extensive training also in other areas.
Only recently, he said, SOCU’s head, Sydney James, returned from overseas training.
The police, he said, are clearly growing in its competence.
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