Intelligence key part of escapees' recapture plan
Scotland Yard helping
Stabroek News
April 20, 2002

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The local law enforcement agencies are using an intelligence-based strategy to recapture the five prison escapees and have secured the services of the renowned Scotland Yard to bolster their efforts.

President Bharrat Jagdeo made this disclosure yesterday when he briefed the media at the Office of the President on the current crime situation.

President Jagdeo pointed out that a joint intelligence task force and an operations task force comprising the police and the army were established over a month ago. Their main objective was the recapture of the escapees.

"There was a recognition that for us to resolve this issue it had to be done through intelligence," the President said. "The task force has been working and has been able to establish a number of contacts to provide the necessary information that allow for the apprehension of the five escapees."

The head of state said government would only be seeking additional overseas assistance if it were needed for areas where the expertise was not available in Guyana.

"If the situation arises where we need the expertise of a kind we don't have in Guyana then we would surely request assistance, but we are already getting support from Scotland Yard," he told reporters. He didn't elaborate on which area the UK sleuths were assisting.

The President said army patrols have been deployed along the East Bank Demerara road and there are police units on standby, which are linked by telecommunication systems and are mobile. Once information is received on the escapees and is processed through the intelligence task force the units are on the ready to respond, he said.

"The police and the army are equipped with heavy weaponry, which they will use in situations if they have to use them," he stated.

He added: "The government has all the resources necessary to recapture the five. It has to be intelligence based though. We have the monetary resources, the equipment, the people. I'm convinced about that."

President Jagdeo said he could not give a commitment on exactly when the escapees would be caught.

"I can't give a commitment that three days from now they will be caught. It depends on the information that we get at this stage," he said.

The President revealed that the investigation into the February 23 jailbreak when Andrew Douglas, Mark Fraser, Shawn Brown, Dale Moore and Troy Dick escaped would be completed by the end of April.

He said based on the recommendations of the commission of inquiry that was established to investigate the jailbreak, government would take action against those involved.

The President deplored the many crank calls being received by the police on the whereabouts of the escapees, which he said impeded the response time of the units when genuine calls were made. He cited a recent case at Mahaica when it was reported that strange men had gone there to buy pigs and others where neighbours were involved in fights.

He said the police and the army would continue to collaborate but because of the nature of the operations more information could not be divulged.

President Jagdeo expressed concern over what he described as political cover for criminals in Guyana. "This complicates the issue terribly and it's not helpful when some elements of the PNC seek to glorify criminals or to denigrate or target members of the police force."

He speculated that this was being done to maybe lessen the confidence of the members of the force in the discharge of their duties and was not helpful to the efforts in apprehending the escapees or curbing the crime situation.

"It seems as though some elements of the PNC leadership have made the choice, but decent citizens of this country will have to make a choice whether they would support the forces that protect law and order or they will glorify criminals."

He pointed out that crime and criminals did not respect race or religion and recalled that the first person killed in the jailbreak was a young Afro-Guyanese prison officer. He also noted that of four car hijackings since the jailbreak, three were Afro-Guyanese victims.

"Some people are trying to make this a political issue. It is not a political issue, it's not a race issue. It's pure and simple criminal."

President Jagdeo declared that the international community would have to examine the situation currently existing. He noted that the international community has supported Guyana over the years with grants and loans to build the economy and develop the social sectors but all of this was now being threatened.

"Terror in all its manifestations must be openly and vigorously condemned," the President said. He said terror prevailed when ordinary citizens have to pass a public thoroughfare that was cut open, and school children and people with babies stayed at the car park until the wee hours of the morning because they feared for their lives and did not want go home.

The international community must take a stand against violence on ordinary people, he said.

President Jagdeo noted that PNC/R leader Desmond Hoyte said his party had a responsibility to the people of Guyana and called on Hoyte to visit the thoroughfares where cars were being stoned and areas where children endured horror at having to pass through groups bent on harming them.

President Jagdeo said he had been interacting with various people including those from the private sector and they were all concerned over the recent spate and random nature of criminal activity pervading the society.

The President said he asked the private sector to work with the law enforcement agencies in mobilising the community policing groups and to be more vocal in condemning the attacks on the police and to support the rule of law.

He appealed to citizens to remain vigilant but urged them not to put their lives on hold because of the activities of the five escapees.