Chamber urges security precautions following jailbreak
Guyana Chronicle
March 3, 2002

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THE Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday urged business people to take precautions following the jailbreak in the city two Saturdays ago with the killer gang still at large.

Head of the Presidential Secretariat and Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon last week urged citizens to be alert and take extra security measures with the armed and dangerous five-man gang still at large.

Police yesterday continued their intensive hunt for the five who killed a Prisons Officer and shot another in the head when they escaped in a carefully-planned operation.

Luncheon said the Joint Services, which comprises the Guyana Prison Service, the Guyana Fire Service, the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force, assessed the situation last week and citizens are urged to increase security measures.

"The most preliminary reports which stemmed from an early morning meeting...with the Heads of Services was that a gang involving members of the infamous `Blackie' gang, has come together, no doubt arising from their incarceration in jail and plans that were made and put into operation in the Georgetown jail", he said.

"It seems that the place of operation of this apparently reformed gang is Georgetown and its environs. The Joint Services feel that this is an extremely dangerous gang and that citizens of Georgetown and its environs should be alert and cautious and sensitive to the need for increased security."

According to Luncheon, the Heads of the Joint Services recommend that business owners strengthen security measures at their place of business and home.

"Definitely, those who are involved in the provision of public transportation, especially hire car drivers, need to heighten security. Suspicious activities should be reported quickly, particularly group criminal activities and car jacking," he advised.

In a statement the Georgetown Chamber said it was extremely concerned about the crime situation in the country especially in light of the recent jailbreak.

It warned Guyanese, particularly businessmen, to observe all possible precautions.

"Avoid having large sums of monies on your premises. Make frequent deposits.

"Keep on safety locks while driving. Report suspicious persons", it advised.

It urged businesspeople to also have a crime action plan ready and to revise this plan regularly with employees.

The organisation felt the police must do more to publicise the faces of dangerous felons. "In this way, all citizens can be easily alerted to criminals", it said.

The chamber said it met the Government and other interest groups in the past to discuss strategies aimed at ameliorating crime.

"Now, the chamber will be meeting with these interest groups to consolidate and enforce the strategies.

"However, the onus of crime prevention and crime fighting must not be left with the police alone. Every citizen has the responsibility of combatting this scourge", it urged.

Police investigating the jailbreak have been questioning two Prison Officers, and according to Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Ronald Gajraj, more can be questioned as long as this is deemed necessary to get to the bottom of the incident.

He said, "people have been taken into custody" as the investigation progresses.

Director of Prisons, Mr. Dale Erskine said the question of how weapons used in the shooting and eventual stabbing to death of 21-year-old Troy Williams and the shooting of Roxanne Whinfield, got into the prison is a matter for investigation.

Whinfield, 36, yesterday was still in a critical state on multi-medication and ventilator support and under close watch by staff at the Georgetown Hospital.

The dangerous "armed" escapees are reportedly members of the notorious `Blackie' criminal ring. `Blackie' or Linden London was shot dead when he was cornered in a Police-Army operation in an Eccles, East Bank Demerara guest house in February 1999.

`Blackie', a former soldier who absconded from the Army, had led his band on a killing and robbery rampage for years.

Police headquarters identified the escaped prisoners as Dale Moore, Shawn Brown, Mark Fraser, Andrew Douglas and Troy Dick.

The Commission appointed to conduct an inquiry into the daring daylight jailbreak began its work last week.

Former Chancellor of the Judiciary, now Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority, Mr. Cecil Kennard is heading the team.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) said the Home Affairs Ministry confirmed last week that the terms of reference for the investigation have been finalised.

Members of the commission include a representative each from the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force, as well as a security consultant and a retired officer.