Police Force to set up Anti-Kidnapping Unit
-- U.S. Government, CARICOM contacted for help By Abigail Butler
Guyana Chronicle
October 26, 2002

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AN ANTI-KIDNAPPING Unit is to be set up in Guyana, in light of the increasing incidents of kidnapping and extortion, Police Commissioner Floyd McDonald announced yesterday.

He said the sister service of a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) state has been contacted to offer assistance in forming and training a well-equipped unit.

"We have received a favourable response. We are in the process of making the necessary arrangements at a Government of Guyana level," the Commissioner told a news conference at his Eve Leary, Georgetown office.

He said meanwhile, they are using the local resources and training in an effort to deal with the new trend of crime in the country.

Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon later announced at his weekly post-Cabinet news briefing that support in the fight against kidnapping and extortion is available and will be provided by Guyana's CARICOM neighbours, particularly Trinidad and Tobago, which is experiencing a similar situation though at a different level or intensity.

He said the administration has also approached the United States Government to solicit support and assistance in capacity building to handle kidnapping and extortion.

He said the crime situation has been engaging the attention of Cabinet, the steps being taken to address it, and the introduction in Guyana of kidnapping and extortion.

Pointing to the recent events of kidnapping and extortion, Luncheon said that during a meeting with the law enforcement agencies, it was apparent that kidnapping and extortion has a unique appeal to the criminal mind since disclosure and complaints by victims is not often forthcoming and not readily provided.

He, however, noted that in the identified cases so far, the law enforcement agencies were having some progress in their investigations.

He said the criminal activities seem to maintain a focus on Buxton and in that context the law enforcement agencies recently intensified patrols and cordon and searches in that East Coast Demerara community.

On the basis of tips provided, searches and patrols in the Buxton backlands are taking place, he said.

There were several reports of kidnapping this week including that of a Stabroek Market stallholder who was reported kidnapped on the East Coast.

McDonald said the search was continuing but that the Police were looking for a female to assist in the investigations.

The Police are also conducting investigations into the kidnapping of city businessman, Bramhanand Nandalall abducted following a shootout with four men Thursday morning as he attempted to open his business place on Regent Street. Up to late yesterday he had not been located.

Another incident involved a female juvenile on Thursday who was later found in the Durban Street, Georgetown area.

And another occurred yesterday morning when a goldsmith and his 15-year-old daughter, a student of President's College, were kidnapped at Golden Grove, East Coast Demerara and suspected of being kept in a village on the East Coast.

Later reports indicated that the two persons had returned home.

Following Thursday's kidnapping of Nandalall, McDonald said rumours started to spread causing confusion in the city and he appealed for persons to desist from doing this especially during this tense period.

He said the Force received many reports which stretched to the limit its already limited resources.

"We would be grateful if persons in this trying period desist from spreading rumours and causing confusion in the society," he stated.

The Police Commissioner said that in an effort to facilitate the receipt of more information from the public, the Force will be installing two additional hotlines at headquarters within the week.

He said that special staff have been identified to man the desk and will be trained to be efficient in the conduct of the operation. All calls will be treated with strict confidentiality, he said pointing out that no caller's ID will be installed and that the telephone will only receive calls.

Appealing to members of the public to desist from supplying false information through these lines, McDonald noted the difficulties the Force has been experiencing with the 911 lines.

He said that persons have been calling in making hoax calls and abusing the 911 operators.

Such conduct, he said, would affect the Police's response time since in some instances calls have to be analysed.

Commissioner McDonald also expressed concern about the use the firearms to commit robberies saying that 55% of the reported offences of robbery under arms were committed with the use of firearms so far for the year, compared with 32% at the end of a similar period last year.

Forty-eight per cent of the persons who were murdered this year died as a result of gunshot wounds.

McDonald said 10% of the robberies have been classified as drug related and that 17 murders were committed as a result of robberies.