The United States (U.S) has assessed Guyana’s crime threat to be at a critical level while the
Guyana Police Force (GPF) yesterday indicated a 7% decrease in serious crimes at the end of April 2018, relative to the same period last year.
The 2018 Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) on Guyana’s Crime & Safety Report, released by the U.S State Department this week, showed that Guyana, with a population of just 750,000, has a general crime rate that “is above the U.S. national average.”
It said that criminal activity continues to be a major issue, with serious crimes, such as murder and armed robbery, being common. The report added that “criminals regularly use weapons, despite a rigorous licensing requirement to own firearms.”
Handguns, knives, machetes, or cutlasses tend to be the weapons of choice, the report stated, adding that police officers have also been both victims and perpetrators of assaults and shootings.
Statistics released by the GPF indicated that there has been a 26% decrease in murder; a 26% increase in robberies where no instruments were used; however, a 13% increase in robbery under arms where firearm were used.
Further, the police indicated that there was a 32% decrease in robbery under arms where instruments other than firearms were used; a 9% decrease in robbery with violence; a 39% decrease in robbery with aggravation; a 32% decrease in larceny from the Person; a 14% decrease in rape; a 17% increase in burglary and 7% decrease in break and enter and larceny.
The US government has warned that hotel room break-ins were reported to the U.S. Embassy by American citizens and warned travelers to use caution when opening their hotel room doors in Georgetown and to safeguard valuables left there.
The U.S. State Department is also advising travelers against walking alone outside after dark in the city, even in the immediate vicinity of their hotels, and advised visitors to exchange currency only at legitimate exchanges at hotels or airports.
The US, has identified drug trafficking as “a serious concern” and “the biggest challenge to law enforcement in Guyana.” The report stated that the GPF has limited resources and manpower to deter or respond to criminal activity.
Focusing on the judicial system, the report said the court is strained by limited resources and often influenced by threats/bribes while defendants linked to drug organizations often use attorneys who are effective in getting cases dismissed or postponed and as a result, criminals go free on a regular basis.
The OSAC report added that corruption is widely perceived to be commonplace within many government agencies and police officers often are reportedly paid off by criminal elements and are alleged to work with criminals by either assisting or protecting them.
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