Ministry of Home Affairs - significant achievements despite crime upsurge
A GINA Feature by Rekha Budhna
Guyana Chronicle
December 28, 2002

Related Links: Articles on stuff
Letters Menu Archival Menu

DESPITE setbacks in several areas the Ministry of Home affairs has forged ahead and has recorded several successes in the various departments.

At the 30th sitting of the National Assembly four Anti-Crime Bills were passed on September 19. The Bills, which were amendments, were the Criminal Law (Offences) Amendment Bill, the Prevention of Crimes (Amendment) Bill, the Racial Hostility (Amendment) Bill and the Evidence (Amendment) Bill.

President Bharrat Jagdeo held a special Cabinet session several weeks before to review existing legislation with the intention of identifying amendments and appropriate additions. Guyana has also ratified an agreement on the Caribbean Court of Justice, which was officially established on July 22 in Trinidad and Tobago but will be operational in 2003.

This agreement materialized by way of the Treaty of Chaguaramas and was signed by President Jagdeo and presented to the CARICOM Secretary General by State Counsel Mr. Naresh Parnanan at the fourth educational workshop held in Trinidad and Tobago, which discussed the roles and objectives of the CCJ.

The Ministry of Home Affairs consists of several departments including the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Fire Service, the Guyana Prison Service, and the General Register Office.

The Guyana Police Force
Following the escape of five prisoners from the Camp Street Prison on February 23, this year, the crime situation in the country increased significantly. In its efforts to curb the crime wave the Guyana Police Force has been engaged in a number of activities. As a result of Government’s aid and overseas assistance the Force received a quantity of equipment and vehicles, while training has been intensified and new squads and intelligence task forces have been set up.

During September public consultations on crime were held with residents of various communities to garner views and possible solutions to the upsurge in criminal activities countrywide. A National Steering Committee on Crime was established following the National Crime Consultation organized by the Office of the President on August 22 at the Ocean View Convention Centre. The consultations provided an opportunity for residents to voice their opinion on the mechanisms adopted by the security forces to combat the situation and offer solutions and advice on how to strengthen existing mechanisms.

A report based on the recommendations gathered was compiled and is to be presented to President Bharrat Jagdeo.

Several projects were undertaken this year by the Ministry, which includes the reconstruction of Sisters Police Station; the reconstruction of the Female Barracks at the Felix Austin Police College; the reconstruction of Reliance Police Station; the reconstruction of the Tactical Service Unit Barracks; the construction of a new Police Outpost at Wisroc and repairs to the roof of the Brickdam Police Station.

Additionally, several Police Stations were fenced including Albion, Anna Regina, Beterverwagting, Blairmont, Issano, Linden, Mahaica, Mahaicony, Number 51, Ruimveldt and Vreed-en-Hoop.

In addition to overseas training courses, 515 Police ranks were trained locally at the Felix Austin Police College in various courses. Twenty-five training courses were held overseas in the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States of America.

The Guyana Police Force received aid from institutions such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force (RCMP), Scotland Yard and overseas-based Guyanese to improve local policing.

Guyana began receiving assistance from Britain in 1999 when the United Kingdom Regional Advisor Mr. Paul Matthias visited Guyana, after which a report was submitted on the findings and recommendations arising out of the visit.

Several ranks have also received overseas training in the areas of intelligence gathering, narcotic investigation, and airport interdiction in Jamaica, the United States of America, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia and many other countries.

The Department also received a quantity of equipment and vehicles to aid in its day-to-day operations. The Department received a quantity of safety equipment, which were purchased to counter the new high profile crimes. These equipments included bulletproof vests, high tech weaponry and armored cars.

The Traffic Department
The Traffic Department has approximately forty-three thousand, five hundred and fourteen cases before the courts for various traffic offences. The Department’s efforts to curb the number of deaths of children on the roads have had a significant impact. To date, 15 children have been killed as compared to 27 in 2001.

Road safety talks have been aired on television and radio and are continuing. Officers from the Traffic Department visit schools and conduct sessions with students.

A total of 46 Police ranks have completed four-wheeled driving courses, while ten other ranks have completed two-wheeled driving courses. During this year the Traffic Department acquired approximately 18 motorcars, 16 (4x4) pick ups, four canter vans, two Bedford trucks, one (26 seat) minibus, 17 motorcycles and two (15 seat) minibus.

The Guyana Prison Service
In the Guyana Prison Service several achievements have been recorded. Achievements include the strengthening of the staff; the appointment of a staff welfare officer; the construction of a cellblock at the Mazaruni Prison, which is reported at 75 percent advanced; the rehabilitation of the Timehri Prison; the rehabilitation of the overhead water tank at the Mazaruni Prison; the rehabilitation of the Female Officers’ quarters at the Mazaruni Prison; the completion of a new dormitory at the Lusignan Prison and the rehabilitation of the Number Two male dormitory block at the New Amsterdam Prison.

The Guyana Prison Service has also received a quantity of books from the Logos II.

Prison armouries at New Amsterdam, Mazaruni and Timehri have been rehabilitated while the technological surveillance/monitoring capabilities have been improved at the Georgetown Prison.

Security capabilities have been enhanced at prison buildings at Mazaruni and Lusignan while the security in strong cell areas for high profile prisoners has been enhanced at the Georgetown Prison.

An observation post has been erected at the Mazaruni Prison and the block-making industry at the Timehri Prison has been expanded. Four stand-by generators have been purchased for various prisons along with one welding set and one compressor for the Mazaruni Prison.

In an effort to enhance the welfare of the prisoners several initiatives were launched including the expansion of training programmes in music, small business management, photography, correspondence, skills instruction for young offenders, and masonry for females. Health care in the Prisons has been enhanced through proper diet, medical, dental and optical care and improved medical supplies.

The Prisons have also received donations, including drum sets and a guitar from the British High Commissioner, Mr. Edward Glover and sewing machines and typewriters from the Food for the Poor.

To boost agricultural production stockbreeding was introduced at all Prisons in the country. There was acquisition of more farmlands, which prisoners cultivate.

The Guyana Fire Service
Accomplishments in the Fire Service include the construction of a new Fire Station at Anna Regina (Region Two); the acquisition of three new state-of-the-art Fire Tenders and ancillary equipment; the acquisition of approximately three acres of land at Leonora (Region Three) for the construction of the Fire Service Training School; the reopening of the Alberttown Fire Station; the training of middle and junior management staff in Trinidad and Tobago through the auspices of the Caribbean Association of Fire Fighters and the increase of the staff establishment from 368 members to 400 members.

Fourteen officers of the Guyana Fire Service participated in a three-day training programme, which focused on Incident Command Systems (ICS), which was presented by Farrow and Associates of the United States of America. The programme was aimed at enhancing the ability of the Guyana Fire Service to respond to humanitarian disasters.

The knowledge gained by officers through the ICS training can be applied in various situations including major and minor fires, high-rise fires, hazardous chemical spills, natural disasters, aircraft crashes, traffic accidents and civil disorders.

General Register Office
The General Register Officer has opened another branch at Anna Regina, for the first time. The Regional Office provides services in terms of the issuing of births, deaths and marriage certificates to the people of Region Two. Residents do not have to travel to Georgetown to obtain vital documents. Meanwhile, preparations have been made for the establishment of a similar office in New Amsterdam, Berbice, which should become operational in 2003.

Two training courses were held during this year for supervisory, middle management and customer service staff.

Training seminars for Registrars were held in Mabaruma, Region One (Barima/Waini), as well as in Regions Eight and Nine. These seminars were held in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

Site Meter