Police report recommends structural changes
Should be known as 'Guyana Police Service'

Stabroek News
July 1, 2001

A report on the Guyana Police Force (GPF) undertaken by the Symonds Group Ltd, consultants for the UK Department for International Development has recommended alterations in its structure and a change of name to stress the importance of service to the community. The name which has been suggested is the Guyana Police Service.

The consultants say that the report identifies a robust way forward for the GPF, and highlights the need to "improve communications with the community and, within the Force, the need to reclaim public support and confidence by placing greater emphasis on frontline services and better training of police ranks."

In line with the name change, the Symonds Group has recommended that more personnel should be deployed in policing tasks and that non-core policing functions such as financing and running the quartermaster stores should be undertaken by civilians.

"The need to concentrate the maximum number of police resources onto the streets and communities in Guyana must be treated as a priority for resourcing. The organisation of the Guyana Police should also reflect this importance. Greater numbers of [policemen] should be assigned to foot patrols within the community thereby enhancing the presence and role of the uniformed police."

The report said that there should be no part of the community which did not have the regular opportunity to contact patrolling police from all ranks.

It noted that presently some 700 of the 3570 policemen sit in offices and could, with a change in strategy, be engaged in policing the communities.

In line with this recommendation was another calling for a clear statement by the Commissioner of Police of zero tolerance for corruption, and that he would be prepared to commit significant resources to eradicate it.

It recommended too that the government should pay serious attention to providing a salary system whereby a reasonable standard of living could be achieved by all ranks.

A proactive and intelligence-led approach, said the report, should be adopted in seeking out and prosecuting those staff who were engaged in corrupt practices. It suggested the use of covert techniques, using trained undercover officers and the utilisation of modern technology for recording audio and visual evidence. Telecommunications techniques should be utilized, it said, and routine integrity testing employed in gathering evidence against corrupt officers.

In line with improving the image of the police in the eyes of the public, the report recommended a new, reconstituted Police Complaints Authority (PCA), independent of the police and with the power to instruct the commissioner to refer any complaint to it which was not criminal and which it believed it should supervise in the public interest. The PCA should also be empowered to introduce mandatory time limits for the referral of criminal matters and for the submission of interim reports by the police if required, said the consultants.

Other recommendations included the reduction of the number of deputy police commissioners from four to one with a clear definition of the post and the reduction of the number of assistant commissioners from twelve to four, and the amalgamation of the four ranks of senior superintendent, superintendent, deputy superintendent, and assistant superintendent into one rank of superintendent. The number of superintendants in turn should decline from 137 to approximately 35.

In line with the this structure, the report suggested that the deputy commissioner should be assigned the sole responsibility for disciplinary matters. This would allow the commissioner to adjudicate on discipline matters with complete impartiality.

The consultants also suggested the introduction of a witness protection programme as well as an informants policy; a revision of forensic, fingerprint, scenes of crime and photographic systems with a view to providing modern capability which must include a DNA capability; and the training of specific officers in house to house enquiries, scene search and evidence-gathering techniques.

It also would like the government to consider the amalgamation of all public service laboratories to create one independent service and for the police administration to consider the rationalisation of computer and manual systems within the Criminal Record Office with a view to establishing a fully automated one in the medium term.

The review on which the report was based was conducted during October and November last year with a view to assisting the senior management of the GPF determine the functions which should be performed by an accountable professional police force; identifying the resources, systems and structure necessary to perform these functions and develop a community-based policing style; and assisting the Guyana government to identify a process whereby the performance, accountability and community orientation of the police force could be strengthened.