Serious crimes down this year

by By Patrick Denny
Stabroek News
April 29, 1998

Crime Chief Floyd McDonald yesterday reported a 10 per cent drop in serious crimes last year when compared with the previous year.

Speaking yesterday at the Annual National Community Policing Conference at the Police Officers' Mess, Eve Leary, McDonald said that the results were good even though the Police wanted to achieve a 15 per cent reduction in crimes such as robbery under arms, robbery with aggravation, robbery with violence and murder.

He reported that for the first three months of this year, serious crimes were down 2 per cent on last year's figures.

McDonald said that last year, there had been a shift to targets such as gas stations and the use of hire cars in the commission of crimes. Robbery of hire car drivers was also a worrying trend, since some of the cars were used to commit other crimes.

The Crime Chief said that so far this year there have been 15 cases all in Georgetown as against 4 last year.

He reported that the police have carried out a survey of all hire car companies and have collected the names and addresses of all their drivers.

McDonald explained that some hire car companies either knowingly or unknowingly recruit drivers with criminal records who engage in criminal activity on their runs.

Dealing with the question of illegal firearms, McDonald said that these are smuggled into the country either from Brazil or Suriname. He said that based on the locations from which firearms have been seized, it would seem that Brazil was a major source from where these illegal firearms are obtained.

McDonald in dealing with areas being targetted by criminals, said that business places were increasingly been pounced upon and urged security firms to be more pro-active.

He noted too that areas on the East Bank Demerara, particularly the new housing schemes at Eccles, were being targetted by criminals who use Agricola and McDoom.

Other vulnerable areas were the Stabroek and Bourda markets areas, and the business communities on Regent and Water Streets, Plaisance and built up areas along the East Coast, including Sophia and behind the University of Guyana.

McDonald noted too the type of publicity generated by the media which tended to suggest that crime was out of control, and that the policing groups need to speak with the people in their communities to rid them of this belief.

He noted that the apprehension rate of 70-80 per cent for murders was good, explaining that once these were not made in the first 24 hours, the difficulty in solving them increases.

McDonald also said that the police often encountered difficulties to get eyewitnesses to come forward, adding that very often they had to stake out witnesses to ensure they attended court. He stressed that though police had the technical equipment to conduct investigations, the eyewitness testimony was very often an important component to bringing the perpetrators to justice.

McDonald said that the reason frequently given by witnesses for not attending court was the inadequacy of the remuneration or the threats they received.

Dealing with the issue of drugs, McDonald said that the drugs commonly found here were cocaine and marijuana, though there was some evidence of heroin being present.

McDonald said that it was important that people disabuse themselves of the notion that because Guyana was merely a way-station for the drugs on the way to Europe and North America, that there was nothing to worry about.

He warned that some of it remains here and it is "our sons and daughters" who are then exposed to it.

McDonald urged the groups to work closely with the police in addressing the problem of drug-related activities in their communities.

McDonald said that while the preventive approach was the best way of addressing crime, there was at times the need for community policing groups to become involved in the investigative aspects. He said that the Police Force was willing to offer training in this aspect of police work.

The Crime Chief also advocated the zero tolerance approach to crime, explaining that this approach meant targetting the most minor infractions of the law.