Joint Services, special units to intensify search for prison escapees
Guyana Chronicle
March 17, 2002

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AS INVESTIGATIONS continue into the Mashramani day jailbreak, efforts to combine the involvement of the intelligence agencies of the Joint Services and special units to intensify the search and capture of the five escapes are continuing.

Speaking at his weekly post-Cabinet media briefing at the Office of the President Friday, Head of the Presidential Secretariat and Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon, said Home Affairs Minister Mr. Ronald Gajraj gave this update at both the Cabinet and the Central Intelligence Committee meetings held last Wednesday.

The Guyana Prison Service, the Guyana Fire Service, the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force comprise the Joint Services.

According to Dr. Luncheon, these measures were arrived at “with the aim of being better prepared to continue the job of the apprehension of the five escape prisoners.’

The prisoners who escaped from the latest jailbreak Troy Dick, Dale Moore, Shawn Brown, Mark Fraser, and Andrew Douglas.

The police have since launched a national manhunt for the five who are said to be associates of the late Linden London, known as ‘Blackie’, who was killed in a shootout with the Army and Police at a guesthouse in Eccles, East Bank Demerara.

Dr. Luncheon said, while the Army is not directly involved in the search for the wanted men, it is giving support by being on the lookout for the clues in remote areas, including the borders.

Prison Officer Mr. Troy Williams was shot and stabbed to death by one of the escapees, while another Prison Officer, Ms. Roxanne Whinfield is critical, but currently doing better in the Intensive Care Unit at the Georgetown Hospital. The escapees shot her in the head.

President Bharrat Jagdeo had promised that the Government would seek the best medical attention available for Ms. Whinfield, although the prognosis did not look good shortly after she was shot.

Dr. Richard Spann, a surgeon from Trinidad has since tended to the patient, and her husband Mr. Mark Whinfield has expressed satisfaction with the Government’s commitment to stand the medical expenses.

Dr. Luncheon said, as a result of Minister Gajarj’s update, “emphasis will be placed on coordinating information gathering among the Joint Services.”

“There will also be an increase in the number of special units that have been deployed in the various Regions to maintain a state of preparedness to detect and apprehend the five criminals,” said Dr. Luncheon.

At an earlier media briefing, the HPS said that the place of operation of this apparently reorganised gang seems to be 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, cautious and sensitive to need for increase security.

According to Dr. Luncheon, the Heads of the Joint Services recommend that business owners strengthen security at both their places of business and their homes. Providers of public transportation, especially hire care drivers, have also been asked to be on alert.

He had urged that suspicious activities be reported quickly, particularly group criminal activities and car-jacking.

The HPS stressed that much emphasis will be placed on security at the Camp Street prison during the reform process embarked upon by Government.

He said this has many implications, one of which is the way in which the prison population is dealt with.

He added that more aggressive approaches, such as segregation and restraining of inmates, have not always been well accepted by some sections of society. Security at the prisons countywide will be boosted through the prison reform process. Government has already started this at the Mazaruni Prison.

“The reform activities have elements of an interactive nature and seek to address security measures in the long and short term,” he said.

“The reality is that the fixture at Durban and Camp Streets is a short-term one and, therefore, security has to be increased, strengthened and heightened,” he noted, adding that the more fundamental aspects of reform have started and are now at a stage of the finalisation of finances to put these in place.

Also, at a media conference held at the Office of the President last month, President Bharrat Jagdeo had said his Administration is considering amending the laws.

He said efforts are being made to reduce the overcrowding at the prison by reducing the number of persons pending trial and on remand.

The option of alternative sentencing is also being examined, he said.

According to the President, he is expecting an early report from the investigating team. (GINA)