RECENTLY, there were several stories of robberies that were committed; homes were allegedly broken into; people were robbed while plying their trade, with some persons losing their lives or sustaining bodily injuries.
The Guyana Police Force has advised the public that serious crime continues to be on the decline when compared to statistics for other periods. Statistical evidence is irrefutable and important in evaluating progress–or the absence thereof–and serves as a critical component in the planning and deploying of resources.
When a robbery occurs, people who are affected–directly or indirectly–feel scared and threatened. And where, in instances of such nature, people live in the moment and worry about the possibility of it happening to them, that fear will cause them to question the credibility of police statistics. Another aspect of our society that ought not to be overlooked is that crime is used as a wedge issue. This serves as political mileage — to ‘prove’ the failure of the other political group, and stoke racial tension on the stereotypical assertion of which group is villain and which is victim.
Reacting to robbery through polarised lenses does not aid in its elimination. Instead, it leads to creating and fomenting lopsided views that could miss the source(s) of the anti-social behaviour and treat with same in a surgical manner. These are the realities that confront the police force and the policymakers; and seeking to address robbery, these must become factors of consideration in planning and decision-making. Every citizen has a responsibility to self and the environment to help in preventing robbery. This requires taking the necessary precaution not to be targeted, being aware of one’s surroundings, and reporting any suspicious activity.
It does not hold true that keeping large sums of money on one’s person or in the home is the safest or wisest decision. Held notions that it is unwise to put money in the bank because it’s yours or the bank will steal it must be reviewed through practical, life-saving lenses. It must be recognised that placing one’s money in the bank can ward off potential danger to one’s life. The bank cannot legally steal your money; and there is proof of transaction in one’s bank account and periodical review through bank statements.
If money is legitimately acquired, there ought to be no problem in having it deposited into a bank account, including complying with the needed paperwork to prove identity and the source of legitimacy, should these be called for in order to protect the integrity of the banking institution. It helps in fighting robbery and other crimes when both the account holder and banking institution conform to the required expectation.
Where banks and government are concerned, it is to the benefit of the bank, the security of the people, and the work of the police force to examine and move with haste to convert cash into other representative money outside of hard cash. Bank cards (credit and debit) and cheque books have proven to reduce the risk of being robbed of one’s hard-earned money. Outside of these being safe and reducing the need to have to carry or store large sums of money, they are among the most trusted ways to conduct money transactions around the world.
Putting this infrastructure in place can be costly, no doubt. At the same time, we need to ask ourselves if we can continue not to do so, when, in addition to the world moving ahead and leaving us behind, robbery is taking a toll on the society and the people. Admittedly, robbery/crime has its genesis in the society, and where man’s first institution is the family, it is expected that socialisation takes into consideration instilling values that “thou shall not steal or covet thy neighbour’s goods.” Similarly, it cannot be lost sight of that, outside of the family, there are other influences–sometimes overpowering– that fuel and propel crime. The sources of these must not be ignored in acknowledging and putting measures in place to curb crime.
Through intelligence-gathering, the police should have data on the causes of crime. And though the degree of the respective causes is not known, the lure of instant gratification, poor family structures, peer pressure, glamourisation of crime, the influential and well-connected not being held to account for their criminal conduct, unemployment and poverty are factors influencing criminal activities. Tackling crime ought not to ignore these factors.