Every day people are being robbed in Guyana. Despite all the claims about a reduction in crime, Guyana is simply not a safe place.
Yesterday morning a woman was stabbed in Meten-Meer-Zorg. She was fortunate that the wound only required stitches; it could have been more serious.
In another incident on Saturday, a bandit attempted to burgle a house in Industry. He was apprehended by residents and given a sound thrashing.
On Saturday, also, there was an attack on a family in Republic Park. Fortunately one of the alleged attackers was caught and another suspect apprehended.
On Saturday, it was also reported that a poultry enterprise in Campbellville was robbed by two armed men. They reportedly escaped with a quantity of cash.
A video surfaced last week about men on bicycles, armed with machetes, robbing persons in the city in broad daylight. On Tuesday last, another video surfaced of persons being robbed in a washroom of a highly popular shopping centre.
There has been no effective crime-fighting strategy. The government’s theory was that Guyana was a criminalized state and that once the government was changed there would be a dramatic reduction in crime. This was wishful and foolish thinking.
The government has found itself flatfooted and clueless in addressing the crime problem. It has tried a mini-shakeup in the Police Force but this has done more harm than good. It has demoralized the police because of the suppression involved.
The government will be hard-pressed to find a single initiative in the security sector which has worked. In fact, it has not launched a single new anti-crime initiative. Even the much vaunted Smart City initiative – which has seen high definition cameras being erected at strategic points around the city – is not an APNU+AFC project. It forms part of the Citizens Security Strengthening Programme which was signed by former Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh and Lusi Aleberto Moreno of the Inter-American Development Bank.
The government has had no effective crime- fighting measures. If anything, the government has established a massive security bureaucracy which is providing jobs for former army officers. There has been more show than substance.
The Minister of Public Security has come in for flak for his failure to rein in personal crime. But the Minister has been shackled by the PNCR. The public security portfolio was degutted of the immigration function which would have allowed greater controls over possible people smuggling. The security agreement between Guyana and the United Kingdom which is supposed to provide resources for the police to fight crime is being mysteriously administered by Ministry of the Presidency.
The Minister of Public Security has effectively been given a basket to fetch water. It is not likely therefore that his Ministry can perform effectively in reducing crime. You cannot combat people smuggling when the security Ministry has no control over who enters, leaves or is permitted to remain in the country. It is incomprehensible that security reform is being directed from outside the Ministry responsible for public security. The government is playing marbles with security.
Under such conditions, the criminals are having a field day. They sense ambivalence and cluelessness in the government’s approach towards crime.
The public, who are living in constant foreboding over the threat of criminal attacks, want to see strong-handed measures against crime.
On the other hand, the criminals are of the view that the police are afraid to use lethal force because they have been told to make more arrests. The police are therefore confused as whether they should be firm or soft on crime.
When you are dealing with hardened criminals, you cannot be soft. When citizens are being robbed, and sometimes killed in the process of being robbed, you cannot be sending a signal of being weak and indecisive.
The government has not only been soft on crime. It has also be impractical. The police cannot be expected by themselves to rein in crime. Crime has always been beyond the capabilities of the police force. The society is too riddled with crime for the police to succeed without extra help.
Unfortunately, not only is there no crime-fighting strategy, there is also no plan to widen the crime fight to involve other agencies, groups and citizens. Citizens are the ultimate losers in all of this. All they can hope for is luck that they are not going to be the next victim of a gun-toting or machete-wielding bandit.
Walk safe and hope for the best! Neither the police nor the government can protect you.
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