– to enhance operation in past five years, says President Granger
By Rabindra Rooplall
GOVERNMENT has provided greater resources to help the Guyana Police Force (GPF)’s crime-fighting capabilities as expenditure (current and capital) increased by 85 per cent from GYD$7.5B in 2014 to GYD$13.9B in 2019.
This is according to Head of State, President David Granger, during his feature address on Thursday at the opening of Police Force’s Annual Officers’ Conference.
The three-day event was held on Thursday at State House, under the theme “Maintaining the Security Sector Reform Implementation to enhance public trust, security and capacity-building.”
In attendance were members of the diplomatic corps, acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings-Edwards, and special invitees.
The President said the government has provided GYD$56.5B for the force’s expenditure over the past five years.
He said the force’s personnel have increased by 37.6 per cent from 3,610 in 2014 to 4,956 at as December 2019. It is now being supported by a 1,990-member Constabulary.
Staffing will be augmented during the ‘Decade of Development,’ the President said.
“Our country’s 215,00km² makes it larger in extent than England and Scotland combined and with 3,000 km of borders and 460 km of sea coast, the force is challenged to enforce the law effectively everywhere. The force has begun to overcome these constraints,” President Granger said.
Adding that policemen and policewomen are now enjoying improved wages and salaries, the President said the average pay of a constable has increased from G$55,889 in 2014 to G$88,237 in 2019.
The force, he said, is being recapitalised, including with support from friendly states. The force’s transportation fleet, since 2015, has been increased with the addition of 338 new vehicles – motor cars, motor buses, motor cycles, motor pick-ups, minibuses, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and other specialised utility vehicles.
“Thirty-four boats, engines and other riverine craft were added to the Marine Branch over the past five years to enhance its marine capability,” he said.
He emphasised that the force must be brought to strength and trained police officers must be deployed away from non-core functions such as immigration, certification of vehicular fitness and issuance of gun licenses.
The President said the non-core functions must be outsourced so as to ensure that more trained ranks are deployed to crime-fighting duties.
The Head of State explained that officers are paid to lead and they are tasked with helping to shape the force’s future over the next 10 years in accordance with government’s public security policy of ensuring that every citizen is safe from anti-social behaviour, crime, disorder and lawlessness on the roads.
The President said police officers’ conferences are about leadership and they must be forward-looking and not retrospective.
“Officers must commit to leading the force into a new era of modernisation and greater professionalisation and to accelerating the reforms taking place. Officers, ultimately, are the guarantors of human safety and public security all the time, to everyone, everywhere in Guyana,” the President noted.
Underscoring that every citizen, in every village, in every region, is entitled to the protections and guarantees accorded under the laws of Guyana, the President said the Constitution of Guyana, [at Article 149 D (1)] provides that “…The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection and benefit of the law.”
The Guyana Police Force, he said, under the Police Act, is charged with protecting citizen’s right to life, liberty and security of person.
The head of state noted that the force’s infrastructure is being improved to create an environment conducive to effective law-enforcement.
“Fifteen new police stations and outposts, including new stations at Linden and Aurora, were constructed over the past five years. Eighteen stations were rehabilitated during that period,” the President noted.
He explained that divisional-based management information units were established and preparations have been made for the introduction of a National Intelligence Model across all divisions.
The President said 46 police stations are now linked to the Integrated Crime Information System. The database of this system is being used to analyse crime-related information.
The Forensic and Science Laboratory was upgraded to support the force’s forensic investigations. It is now capable of conducting Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing, at last.
The force’s administration is becoming more automated. The Citizen Security Strengthening Programme has supported the implementation of an Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) to enhance the force’s human resource, finance and procurement management.
Police stations, outposts and headquarters will be expected to fully transition to renewable energy sources by the end of the ‘Decade of Development’ in 2029. The force will be expected to be self-sufficient in energy by the end of that year.
Further, he said the investment made in reorganising, restructuring and recapitalising the force has paid dividends.
“There is renewed confidence policing. Fewer complaints about extra-judicial actions have been registered. The force is improving as it enters a new decade of the millennium,” the President said.
Noting that January is the first month of the ‘Decade of Development’, the President said the reforms which will be implemented during this decade will allow a modern and professional police force to emerge.
Focusing on reforms to be implemented over the next 10 years, the President said this will create a stronger, more mobile, more versatile and more professional police force.
“The force is a national, not coastal organisation. It must reach and it must extend its reach to the most thinly-populated and geographically-challenging terrain in the country. Its reach should extend to the most remote corners of the country. Its 74 police stations, 24 outposts and six checkpoints are inadequate for our territory, population and incidence of transnational crime. There have to be changes so no part of the country remains unmanned and no crime remains undetected,” the Head of State said.
Commissioner of Police, Leslie James, said the GPF continues to forge ahead for greater efficiency and maximum development.
He said over the past year, there was a decrease in serious crimes by 16.8 per cent, while noting that there were many sting operations, policing strategies, operationalising the 911 system along with various community outreach programmes.
“Our journey of change continues to progress within the organisation as we are equipping our ranks with the requisite skills and competencies to deliver effective services. Such efforts can be reflected from the training of ranks in risk assessment, media relations, crime analysis and marine capabilities amongst others,” he said.
In order to maintain service delivery and response mechanism, the top cop said the force, in collaboration with the IDB through the Citizens Security Strengthening Programmer, has rehabilitated and constructed buildings with common standards and with specialist facilities in keeping with international best practices.