Better pay for cops

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, President David Granger and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley await the arrival of Queen Elizabeth 11 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta

– as part of reform plan for Police Force

By Neil Marks in Malta
MEMBERS of the Guyana Police Force are likely to benefit from increased salaries next year as part of the government’s plan to reform the Police Force and curtail criminal activities.“We hope to have a better equipped, better trained, better paid Police Force next year,” President Granger said in Malta Sunday on the programme “The Public Interest” which is produced by the Ministry of the Presidency and aired on state TV NCN.
“There will be an announcement [in the January budget] of a reform plan for the police which will incorporate improved conditions of service,” he said, pointing out that poor pay is one of the reasons four to five Police officers leave the force every week.
Mr Granger said he asked Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud to present a memorandum to the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Service, which is responsible for reviewing salaries and working conditions across the Public Service.
While the full report of the Commission may not be ready in time for the budget, the President said he has asked for an interim report “to know the direction they are thinking”.
He said the recommendation of the Commission “is not a rule” but the report will go to Cabinet for consideration.
The President noted that while the force brings in 200-300 recruits every year, “you can’t retain people because the pay is so low”.
Since taking office following the May 11 general elections, the new administration has faced an uphill battle in curtailing crime.
Mr Granger said the current spate of criminal activities is the legacy of the damage which was done to the Guyana Police Force since 1999. He said in the period since then, the previous PPP government rejected a number of interventions proposed by overseas governments and other organisations.
“The previous administration methodologically and systematically ignored recommendations for over 15 years,” the President said, noting that it would have been “impossible” to turn around the crime situation in such a short period of time.
“The Police Force is badly damaged; it was under-funded, under equipped; the members were underpaid, under-motivated. We are now trying to correct the damage that has been done and I expect things will get better in the fullness of time.”
At the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, Mr Granger said he personally spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron to restore the security sector reform plan which was abandoned by the previous government.
He said that apart from soliciting assistance from Foreign Governments, there is work within the Police Force to improve operations.
He said horses are being moved into the Rupununi to help with patrols there, and the Commander of the Police Division which oversees security in the hinterland is being relocated to Bartica from Georgetown.
Further, Mr Granger meets with the Police Commissioner and the Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan every week as part of a National Security Committee.
“We will bring crime under control,” he said.