`Confidentiality problem' hampering Police operation
-- Luncheon
Guyana Chronicle
May 9, 2002

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HEAD of the Presidential Secretariat and Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon yesterday indicated that a "confidentiality problem" is severely affecting the Police Force in its joint efforts with the Army to recapture the five armed and very dangerous prison escapees.

At his regular post-Cabinet news conference, he also indicated that Cabinet is in possession of considerable detail and information which link certain individuals to the five escapees.

He said Cabinet at its meeting Tuesday, continued its discussions and the review of events in the "crime sector", especially related to the five prison escapees and the current 'inter-gang drug warfare' at the level of the criminal deportees here.

"Cabinet was provided with information and recognises the level of support that the escapees were being provided by certain individuals and elements in our society; Cabinet was also provided information in considerable detail on the nature of support, that met all possible forms of material support, being provided to the escapees," Luncheon stated.

Noting that the information has confirmed that persons are "aiding and abetting the criminals", he urged persons to refrain from doing this since it is against the law.

"It is necessary to point out that aiding and abetting criminals is proscribed in law," Luncheon said.

He also confirmed that a member of the Police Force was being investigated for allegedly supplying information to the five men who broke out of the Camp Street, Georgetown jail on February 23 last.

The five on the run - Dale Moore, Andrew Douglas, Sean Brown, Troy Dick and Mark Fraser - have, since their well-executed daylight prison escape, been on a criminal rampage terrorising citizens, committing armed robberies, hijacking cars and engaging the Police in shootouts.

It is understood that a Police Corporal made a telephone call to the father of the suspected gang leader, presumably to warn him of an impending Police operation to recapture the gang.

The Police Officer being questioned for alleged connection with the escapees is from a Georgetown outpost, a source said.

The call was traced and the officer was being questioned, the source said.

Commenting on the incident, Luncheon said: "Indeed investigations are ongoing into the engagements and the interactions that took place between a member of the Police Force with a member of the gang of escapees."

"That investigation has not been concluded and I would want to believe that until such time has elapsed that we might not want to engage in unnecessary speculation...but the contacts were made, the contacts were disclosed, admitted to and the investigations are ongoing."

This has led to questions being raised about the level of confidentiality and professionalism of some members of the Police Force, he said.

"With regards to the increasingly prominent inter-gang drug gang warfare, Cabinet was provided with some insights into the nature of this recent development and the levels and scope to which that warfare has extended," the top Government official also said.

"...our intelligence agencies are familiar with the considerable threats that have been made to individuals who are seemingly involved in narco-trafficking (and) the Police are continuing investigations into this new and very current form of criminal activity," Luncheon said.

According to him, this current form of criminal activity has been linked to recent deaths.

"The intelligence community is aware of the threats that have been directed at individuals associated with narco-trafficking; I mentioned that deaths have already taken place and investigations into those deaths have certainly implied and have certainly revealed the involvement of members of various gangs who have been identified, and it would seem, pursuing personal, private or other forms of endeavours.

"So on that basis, from the intelligence and from the deaths that have occurred and the investigations into those deaths, I think the intelligence community has made a fairly strong identification of the process that is involved and that is resulting in these deaths," Luncheon said.

Commenting on the assertion that `everybody on the streets knows who is shooting who' but yet the Police Force cannot seemingly make any arrests, he responded: "I think procedurally, one has to build a case...I am not certain but I feel strongly that the aggrieved party (not referring to those who have died) but those who have been wounded or suffered at the hands of the `gang members' - they are the ones who one would expect would provide the Police with all of the information, the details on which arrests and prosecution can be based."

"It has been my experience that such information and detail have always been non-forthcoming and one can quite understand why that is so," Luncheon added.

According to him, "it does seem that there is a proclivity for the individuals and the groupings involved in that activity to resolve to deal with their matters outside the constraints of the law."

"I don't believe that that situation has changed and therefore in terms of arrests and in terms of prosecution, the Police Force is at a decidedly disadvantage in not being provided with information, support and such-like from the aggrieved party," he added.

In terms of confidentiality in the Police Force, he said: "I am of the view, to a greater or to a lesser extent, that the Police Force mirrors what happens in the bigger society (and) I think it would not be inaccurate to say that Guyanese society thrives on trading in information."

"One would have hoped that information in most instances would be accurate and probably reflect the event or the occasion but I must admit misinformation and dis-information is equally well traded as correct and truthful information," Luncheon said.

"In that context then, I am not surprised that members of the Guyana Police Force also subscribe to this trading in information; in those instances when the practice has a negative impact on Police operations, there are remedies that are available to prevent that behaviour from continuing..."

"...but we are all aware that on the basis of various sentiments, enticements and even sometimes financial (procurement), that members would still be constrained to provide information to others," he added.

"It may very well be that some of the difficulties that members of the Police Force and the joint team (Police-Army) currently face...the disappointments that they faced in various operations intended to recapture the escapees, those disappointments may very well be a reflection of the `confidentiality problematic' that is affecting the Police Force," he asserted.

"It does call for a greater degree of scrutiny to secure information and of course the proper professional ethic being applied by professionals tasked with law enforcement responsibilities," Luncheon added.