Tackling crime, looking inward
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WHEN the APNU+AFC Coalition was in office throughout the period 2015 to 2020, the crime situation in the country was getting from bad to worse. And every day, the newspaper headlines served as a reference that the Coalition was not proactive in the crime fight and did not satisfactorily arrest crime.

After all, citizens were crying foul at the alarming levels of crime that they were facing, including home invasions and murders.
The media had gotten sick of the police statistics showing crime on the decrease while citizens’ direct reports and the postings on social media indicate otherwise.

This was seemingly worrisome to the David Granger Administration because, from reports, it tried to strike a deal to suppress the Police Force’s reportage of crime statistics and interfere with the management of the Force by putting the “yes” men in virtually all areas that had power.

This alleged clandestine interference had a debilitating effect on the force and their fight against crime. It shattered the high morale and confidence of the police because it seemed as if one did not bend to the will of the APNU+AFC Coalition, then one would suffer the fate of non-promotion, trumped-up charges and internal discipline and a toxic working environment.

The PPP Government is doing all that it could to fight crime in an intellectual and practical manner. It has used community policing groups and other non-governmental organisations to fight crime. It has adopted a no-nonsense approach to fighting crime and testimony to its commitment to this is the huge capital and current estimates it passed in Parliament this year to tackle police reforms, administration, and the security apparatus. So, the Police Force is being given all that it needs to fight crime.

The government must also urgently get to the root of the problem that is hampering the Police Force in being proactive in its approach in the fight against crime. The toxic working environment of the police must be addressed and enquiry made into the issues of promotion throughout the force.

Then, the government must be seen fully committed to using its resources to help further fund specialised housing schemes and incentives that target the Police Force directly.
Similarly, the racism which exists in the police must be rooted out firmly as it is a deterrent to achieving an ethnically balanced and diverse Police Force.

Politicians must also be fully supportive of police ranks—they are fighting crime and criminality in our society. They must not unjustly criticise the force to score cheap political points. The APNU+AFC politicians must also stop politising crime as this sends a dangerous message to the criminals.

We will get a safer Guyana if we all work together to resist and put up the blockade against crime. One of the solutions is paying attention to the internal problems of the Police Force alluded to in this column.

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