Report said we need less police officers, not more
Stabroek News
February 17, 2002

Dear Editor,

Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon, has on more than one occasion recently alluded to the fact that promotions within the officer corps of the Guyana Police Force, have not been made over the past two years. He attributed this to the fact that the Police Service Commission has not been re-constituted, supposedly as a result of the inability of the parliamentary political parties to arrive at a consensus on the question of the constitution of the parliamentary committees. On the basis of Dr Luncheon's reaction, it might be reasonable to conclude that it is the intention of the government and the cabinet to make more appointments to and promotions within the officer corps of the Guyana Police Force. This is a startling revelation, particularly when cognisance is taken of the recommendations which were made by the Symonds Group Ltd., consultants to the UK Department of International Development, relating to the restructuring of the force, or 'service', as they suggest it becomes.To quote from your issue of 01/07/2001 (page 3): "Other recommendations included the reduction of the number of the deputy police commissioners from four as to one -- assistant commissioners from twelve to four as well as the amalgamation of four ranks --. The number of superintendents in turn should decline from 137 to approximately 35."Viewed strictly from the perspective of the optimisation of efficiency and focus, most of the proposals which were made in that report seem highly commendable.There ought to be no argument with the contention that the Guyana Police Force is currently awash with officers, those on post retirement contracts and service extensions alone being accountable for close to 25% of the officer corps.The result is a high degree of diffusion of functional authority, unnecessary turf battles, lack of precision in the definition of lines of authority with a resultant overcentralisation of control.This situation has been to the advantage of members of the political directorate who have seized upon this apparent slackness in the force's chain of command to inject external influences into the operations of the Guyana Police Force.There are allegations about police officers being telephoned by political operatives, whether at their homes or in their offices. There are claims that these political types demand information, including police files, directly from police officers, without even so much as a by your leave to the commissioner. There are claims that ministers of government feel that they are properly mandated to issue instructions and commands to police ranks. This is of course quite unlawful. The primary intent of the Police Act is to insulate the national constabulary from political interference and bias.The need therefore exists for the tightening of control within the structure, and a reduction of the size of the officer corps is a good point of departure.

Yours faithfully,

CRB Edwards