Georgetown, Guyana – (January 10, 2019) President David Granger made it clear that the days of concealing security sector mistakes and misdeeds are over. “The Force’s officers will be held accountable for the consequences of their actions and for the instructions that they issue to their subordinates”, the Head of State said during his address this morning at the opening ceremony of the Annual Police Officers’ Conference held at the Baridi Benab, State House.
“The Force is not merely one for shine shoes and soft raiment. It is not an organization only for desk-bound clerks and land-lubbers…The Guyana Police Force can fulfil its tasks effectively only if it is commanded by a corps of officers who are competent, committed and uncorrupted. The Force’s most senior officers must be men and women of proven independence, integrity and intelligence. The Force must be able to enjoy the trust of the public,” the Commander-in-Chief said.
It is widely accepted that the Force’s membership of about 4,600 officers is inadequate. Additionally, Guyana’s geographic peculiarities, particularly its rough hinterland terrain, places an additional strain on the Force’s resources. Nevertheless, the President issued a call on senior officers to visit, inspect, report and correct problems which arise in the various police divisions. “Every barrack room, bicycle, boat, constable, horse, kitchen, station, stable and vehicle must be checked-daily, weekly, monthly and annually, by a supervising subordinate or gazetted officer to ensure that they are fit and proper for role,” he said.
Turning his attention to the Police Service Commission and its role in rebuilding public trust, President Granger explained that if fairly applied, its powers of promotion can re-establish the principle of merit; discipline and dismissal can encourage probity and discourage misconduct. Moreover, the Commission’s independent status can contribute to enhancing public trust in the Force, boosting the morale of officers and ensuring the efficacy of law enforcement.
Article 212 (1) of the Constitution vests the Police Service Commission, which the Government reconvened on August 9, 2018, with the “…power to make appointments to any offices in the Police Force of or above the rank of Inspector, the power to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices and the power to remove such from office…”
The President said that given the current security situation in Guyana, this is an important mandate to fulfil. “The Commission’s support for the objectives of security sector reform can ensure that there will be, within the Force, a corps of senior officers committed to effective police administration, operations, investigation and intelligence-gathering, ensuring sound leadership to subordinate officers and constables; and evincing the virtues of intelligence and integrity and being capable of securing the public trust. The appointment of the Commission, therefore, is essential to Police Force efficiency and to state security,” the President said.
Like the Police Service Commission, the Police Complaints Authority, which was re-established on September 12, 2018, is equally important for the maintenance of law and order and public safety. The Authority, which is an independent body, is vested with powers to receive “complaints of specified cases of misconduct by members of the Police Force” and “supervise investigation of certain serious crimes alleged to have been committed by members of the Police Force.”
The Head of State said too that, “the Authority can engender public trust: by serving as a critical link between the Police and the public and providing a means through which the public could have its grievances against police malpractice addressed in an impartial manner by an independent body; and by ensuring that the Force’s actions are in conformity with respect for human rights, including the right to life and liberty – rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution.”
He also called on both the Police Service Commission and the Police Complaints Authority to ensure that the approved reforms, which the Guyana Police Force has embarked on, are effectively carried out. The reforms are aimed at improving public trust and confidence, developing a stronger organization, boosting the Force’s intelligence, response and investigative capabilities and producing a more versatile police officer.
“Security sector reform, therefore, must be accelerated to strengthen this vital national institution in 2019. Security sector reform will revise the Force’s institutional framework. A new leadership team has been installed within the Force. Police divisions are being restructured to correspond to regional divisions; commanders for hinterland divisions will no longer endure the urban discomfort of Eve Leary but will live and work in more pleasant hinterland regions; address the problems of chronic under-funding, lack of adequate planning and the low standards identified in the ‘Combe Report’; reverse the Force’s record of poor maintenance and the abuse of its moveable and immoveable assets; pay greater attention to the selection and training of its constables and cadets; enhance the welfare of its constables and subordinate officers by improving the conditions under which some constables live and work to ensure promotions are based on hard work, honesty and merit,” the President said.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police, Mr. Leslie James in his address, said that said that Force is at a very critical juncture of reformation and thus far, implementation has begun on three main pillars of the reform process. These are: training, human resource management and infrastructure.
The Commissioner informed the Head of State that since he took over command of the Force, he, along with his four deputies, have met with officers in all police divisions, branches and units across the country. “We have been demonstrating leadership through a collective effort and at the end of the past year, the Guyana Police Force achieve 11 per cent in serious crimes,” he said.
According to Commissioner’s report, robbery under arms reduced by 13.2 per cent, while there was a 6 per cent reduction in road fatalities.
Mr. James assured that the Force will remain resolute and focused on maintaining public security in accordance with this mandate; noting that foremost to the Force is the application and execution of strategies to suppress crime and violence and to enhance systems to maintain law and order.
This year’s conference is themed, “Security sector reform implementation: enhancing capacity through new resource management, training and infrastructure”.