Jan 24, 2023 Letters
It is meaningless to publish serious crime figures with the intention to create the perception that crime is under control when citizens feel otherwise and there is a perpetual fear of crime in the country. The spin doctors in the Guyana Police Force must do better. I watched and listened to the various Police Regional Divisional Commanders reporting on their end of year crime statistics.
They all presented a general decrease of reported serious crimes for 2022 as compared to 2021. There is, however, an increase in certain categories of serious crimes across the various divisions.
The Head of the Criminal Investigation Department announced an 80% clear up rate of murder. Charging persons for serious criminal offences is just one step in the criminal justice process. Law Enforcement has a rigorous standard, proof beyond a reasonable doubt. A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. No, not guilty as charged. A crime is considered solved or cleared up when a person is charged and convicted by the Court. During 2022 numerous cases including murders and rapes before the Supreme and Magistrates’ Courts were dismissed due to lack of evidence.
In answer to a question recently put to him by a Journalist about the performance of the Top Cop, Clifton Hicken, a smiling Minister of Home Affairs posited that under Hicken’s leadership there was a dramatic decrease in serious crimes in 2022 by 20% as compared to 2021.
Consideration must be given to the ‘dark figures of crime,’ that is to say, crimes committed but for diverse reasons not reported to the police. The possibility of ‘ghosting,’ falsifying patrols logs to ‘make the numbers come out right’ cannot be overlooked. In addition, the police extract their crime figures from their crime book. However, many serious crimes are hidden away in their occurrence book and station diary. Hence, they are not catered for when compiling the stats. Analysing crime stats is nothing new. It became popular during the early 1990s when Laurie Lewis was the Commissioner of Police. He identified eleven serious crimes which were analysed on a monthly and yearly basis. After over three decades they are the same crimes that the present police administration is analysing, despite the fact that crime has evolved over the years. Many serious crimes including trafficking in person, some sexual offences under the Domestic Violence Act 1996, and other serious crimes in relation to the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (control) Act Chapter 10:10 are not catered for. The outdated list of serious crimes should be revised in keeping with current serious crime trends.
During this month the police seized several illegal high-powered automatic firearms. There have been an alarming number of unsolved serious crimes countrywide including at least three execution- style killings and the double murder of Detective Corporal, Dwayne McPherson, and civilian Kishan Bugburgh at Huntley, Mahaicony. No one was charged for the murders. Foremost among the killings is one committed at Leopold Street, Georgetown in broad daylight where an assailant pumped twelve bullets from an automatic handgun into the body of Anthony Charles called ‘Skiddle,’ killing him on the spot. The murderer made no effort to conceal his identity while executing the murder. The police are still to make an arrest in this matter despite their ‘Safe City Apparatus’ in place. During the Annual Police Officers’ Conference 2022 the police announced that ‘Safe City’ is slated to replace boots on the ground. Wow! One of the daily newspapers reported that as a matter of concern over the crime situation, President Ali who recently returned from official duty in India asked to be briefed on the execution and crime situation in the country.
The police must use a better method of evaluation to measure how well they are performing. According to Wayne W Bennett and Karen M Hess in their book ‘Management and Supervision’ in Law Enforcement, low crime rate does not mean that the police are efficient and effective. A high arrest rate does not necessarily show that the police are doing a good job. A high ratio of police ranks to citizens does not necessarily mean high quality police performance. Responding quickly to calls for service does not necessarily indicate that the police are efficient and effective. The crime stats produced by the police is just a tabulation of events. It does not mean that the activities were completed efficiently and effectively, and they do not describe what impact the activities had on the various communities.
Rather than looking at crime rates, number of arrests, and response time evaluation should assess whether or not the police are fulfilling their responsibilities to the community as set out in Section 3 (2) of the Police Act Chapter 16: 01. They must also look at their mission statement. It is flawed. I will address it in a subsequent article. Most citizens want to live in safe, orderly neighbourhoods.
According to Sir Robert Peel, often called the ‘Father of Modern Policing’ the test of police effectiveness is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police activity in dealing with these issues. Reduction of fear is a very important measure.
In evaluating the crime situation, apart from looking at percentage increase and decrease in crime, the police should ask the following questions: Is it a trend? Is it a pattern? Is it a series? Is it a spree? Where are the hot spots? Based on the data gathered the police can adopt the 3Ds approach towards crime fighting -Data driven decisions, utilising their technical, human, and conceptual skills in the fight against crime and the fear of crime. There is also the CompStat model of crime fighting that was successfully implemented in the New York Police Department, United States of America by Mayor Robert Giuliani and Commissioner of Police William Bratton. It is a computer – generated crime statistics performance management system used to reduce crime and to achieve other police department goals. It rests on four legs: Accurate and timely intelligence, rapid response, effective tactics, relentless follow up and assessment. It has its negatives, but is still very instructive.
In addition, citizens surveys can assess other citizens approval or disapproval of the police performance which is generally reflected in letters of criticism or commendation, support for police programmes, cooperation with incidents being investigated, letters to the editor, public reaction to a single police incident and response to police – initiated surveys. Community surveys are often a win – win situation. Citizens are better served and the police receive positive feedback. Citizens surveys can also be a key in establishing good communication. Citizens surveys might also help set organisational goals and priorities, identify department strengths and weaknesses, identify areas of improvement and needed training and influence the motivation of employees. May God help the Guyana Police Force.
Pres. Ali begging for loans!!
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