Police to get US$1M in vehicles to fight crime

Stabroek News
July 4, 2001

Faced with a rash of violent crimes, the government yesterday set aside US$1M (approximately G$190M) for the acquisition of vehicles for the Guyana Police Force

The money is to be identified from within the 2001 budget recently presented in the National Assembly. The amount budgeted for vehicles in the 2001 estimates is $25 million.

A release, yesterday, from the Office of the President said that the reallocation was being made at the direction of President Bharrat Jagdeo and that his decision to make the additional resources available "is consistent with His Excellency's commitment to recapitalise the security forces."

Last year, the government announced $545 million in additional resources for the army for this year and last year. No such provision was announced for the Police.

According to the release announcing the allocation, "the vehicles, which are to be purchased, shortly, are to be employed in the fight against crime."

Contacted for a comment yesterday, Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj said that he has asked the Police Commissioner, Laurie Lewis, for a list of vehicles its needs for this purpose.

Stabroek News was unable to contact the Commissioner to determine whether his officers had completed the list.

Finance Minister, Saisnaraine Kowlessar, could not say why the reallocation had been decided after the passage of the budget.

Other Finance Ministry officials, however, suggested that an explanation should be sought from Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon.

The lack of mobility in the police force has been a recurring problem for a number of years. Routinely, residents besieged by bandits have related how on calling police stations they are told that there was no transportation and if a vehicle was provided the police would then be in a position to respond.

During his meeting with the residents of Albion following their protests last month at the Police's inability to deal with the rising incidence of crime in their community, President Jagdeo promised to make more vehicles available in the area. Shortly after, two vehicles were allocated to the station in the area for patrolling.

The report from the United Kingdom-based Symonds Group pointed up the deficiency in the transport capability of the police. "Further problems were identified by senior officers in the area of transportation. There were not sufficient vehicles to transport officers to locations where they were required. Examples were given of officers having to wait inordinately long periods of time for transport to locations which severely impinged upon their operational capability", the report said.

The group recommended that the vehicles available to the Tactical Services Unit should be reviewed. This recommendation was reiterated when the consultants looked at the various Police divisions and they recommended that "a review be made of the fleet of vehicles and water craft with a view to making more suitable provisions." They suggested a 1-3 month timeframe for the implementation of this suggestion.

The group also recommended "the introduction of a fully equipped Scenes of Crime Vehicle for use in major crimes in urban areas.

A four to six-month timeframe is given for its implementation."

The joint committee on border and national security matters which was due to submit its report at the weekend would have also looked at this issue.