Georgetown, Guyana – (February 15, 2018) President David Granger said that human safety and public security can be guaranteed only by a police force that is officered by persons who are competent, committed and uncorrupted. He said that no Government, anywhere on earth, could countenance the employment of incorrigibles and expect that law and order could be maintained. He made these remarks at the opening of the Police Officers’ Annual Conference today at the Officers’ Mess, Eve Leary. Acknowledging that he has taken a firm position on crime and corruption, speaking to members of the media after the opening ceremony, the Commander-in-Chief said, “I am not tough on the police, I am tough on crime. I am on the side of the Police Force that is why I went to all of the trouble to initiate reforms so that the Police Force would have an easier time in combating crimes.”
Zero-tolerance for corruption
The President reiterated his call for a professional and incorruptible Force, noting that even the best efforts of the Office of Professional Responsibility and/or the Police Complaints Authority could be undermined by corrupt senior officers, who condone the misconduct of subordinates. This kind of unprofessionalism, he said, damages the careers and endangers the lives of honest policemen and jeopardises public security.
“Lawless policemen have no place in a lawful Force. A Force, which is contaminated by corruption, cannot safeguard the security of our citizens. Service in the Force must be based on the values of commitment, competence and incorruptibility… If corruption is concealed, it will continue. Transferring a corrupt officer from one branch to another or posting him from one division to another or promoting or demoting him from one rank to another cannot guarantee that he will change his wicked ways,” President Granger said.
Security and the economy
Speaking of the devastating effects of crime and criminal violence on society, the Head of State reminded the ranks of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) that human safety is necessary to ensure the country’s stability. He issued a call for the Force to secure the country against trafficking in drugs, guns, and people, noting that a safer, more stable society will signal to investors that destination Guyana is safe for their investments.
“Crime is the greatest impediment to human safety and economic prosperity. It must be curtailed if the people are to be safe and if the state is to be secure. The control and eradication of crime will protect citizens’ right to life and permit them to enjoy the rewards of their labour,” he said.
The issue of reforming the GPF has been high on the President’s agenda, so much so, that shortly after assuming Office in 2015, the President lobbied now former United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron and sought and acquired the support of the British Government to re-introduce the Security Sector Reform Action Plan, which the former Administration had rejected.
“Security sector reform…will involve measures to promote greater probity in the work of the police and to ensure greater integrity among its members. It will strengthen professional responsibility and oversight of the Force. Security sector reform is being reintroduced at this time with the aim of providing increased security for our citizens by improving the Force’s performance to allow it to become, increasingly, more capable of crime-fighting and law-enforcement,” the Head of State explained.
Moreover, these vital reforms will see the reconfiguration of police divisions, increasing them to 10 to correspond with the Administrative Regions in Guyana’s regional system. The reforms will also strengthen partnerships between the Force and communities. “Security sector reform will help to reduce crime and uncover the causal factors, which give rise to crime. It will enhance cooperation between public and the police… Your Government will resist any attempt, from any quarter, to reverse, retard or thwart the reforms on which we are about to embark,” the President said.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police, Mr. Seelall Persaud, in what was his last speech as Top Cop at the opening of the GPF’s Officers’ Conference, informed that at the end of 2017, the Force recorded a 10 percent decrease in serious crimes when compared to the previous year and thus far, this year, the trends are showing a 23 percent reduction compared to the corresponding period last year. Recognising the fact that these statistics are sometimes questioned by the public, the Commissioner explained that the police statistics are based on reported crimes but there are always a number of crimes that are committed in communities across the country that go unreported.
“Public trust is a major issue. If people do not believe that their matter will be treated professionally and that there will be a justified outcome then they will not be motivated to report,” Mr. Seelall explained.
In terms of murders, the Force recorded a 19 percent decrease in reports in 2017, a 13 percent decrease in gun-related robberies, a 17 percent decrease in breaking and enter and larceny and an overall 13 percent decrease in road accidents. The Police Commissioner, in his report, also informed that the Force, in 2017, recruited, trained and deployed a total of 471 ranks. Additionally, 572 ranks benefitted from in-service and overseas training. The Force also acquired 140 vehicles through a grant from the Government of China and 170 bicycles from the United States Government, which are likely to impact positively on crime prevention, detection and response time.
Proposals for 2018
Commissioner Persaud informed that proposals will be made for approval at this Conference to increase the capacity at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). “We speak specifically to the establishment of a Cold Case Unit, a Gun Crimes Investigation Unit and a Cyber-Crimes Investigation Unit. There will also be presentations in order to achieve improvement of the Canine Section,” he said.
This year, the conference is being held under the theme, “Forging ahead with effective policing through strategic human resources and operational management, partnership and professionalism.”
Assistant Commissioner- Administration, Mr. Clifton Hicken said that over the next two days, 152 officers of the GPF will be deliberating on 25 important areas, including analysis of unprofessional behaviour, review of police prosecutions, reducing response time, reducing investigation and prosecution backlog, and preparation for Local Government Elections.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carl Greenidge, who is currently performing the functions of Prime Minister, Minister of Public Security, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Amna Ally, Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix, Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Ms. Yonette Cummings-Edwards, Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms. Shalimar Ali-Hack and Heads of the Joint Services were also in attendance at the opening ceremony.