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“Today, we cannot ignore the fact that February 23 is almost upon us. It has been one year since the jailbreak and the upsurge in crime, which has been a cause of concern in every aspect of society, including the Government, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Joint Services. The crime situation continues to be multifaceted.”
“Between now and the last time I reported, the Police Force have continued to carry out anti-crime operations, which have seen varying degrees of success. Since the beginning of 2003 the Police arrested two hundred and nineteen (219) suspects charged with various serious offences ranging from murder, robbery under arms to rape. They seized fifteen (15) illegal firearms and a large quantity of ammunition (compared to five for the same period last year). While in armed confrontations with the police who are fully committed to the security of our citizens, fourteen (14) bandits lost their lives,” the minister declared.
He urged that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) should be commended and supported because of the serious challenges which they face on a daily basis.
He also appealed to the public to be patient and cooperative with the police as they continue combating crime, through targeted patrols, snap roadblocks and search operations based on the intelligence available.
Dealing with the enhancement of the GPF’s crime fighting capabilities, Gajraj reported that protective and communication equipment that were ordered are already in use by police ranks and as more of the equipment arrive increasingly other ranks will be provided with the gear.
The Ministry is vigorously pursuing the acquisition of land and water vehicles adaptable to a wide range of occupational circumstances, and in this regard four new jeeps have been acquired which have been dispatched to interior locations.
Gajraj noted that special attention is being paid to Lethem and Mabaruma because of the new network of roads that has been established resulting in demographic shifts.
The Ministry also plans to construct two new police stations, one in Lethem and the other at Sophia, while stations at Bartica, Wisroc and Rose Hall are currently being reconstructed.
Recruitment of personnel is continuing nationwide, but Gajraj observed the numbers have not reached the expected level. However, there have been some improvements, he noted.
Negotiations are also underway to acquire a plot of land to establish a specialised training centre where police officers and other law enforcement officers will be exposed to modern anti-crime tactics and methods, on a continuous basis. The British Government will be providing assistance in this venture.
As regards the training of the special anti-crime unit within the GPF, he said there has been a delay in acquiring the kind of weaponry and equipment that have been recommended by the British experts who will be conducting the training.
Gajraj said the weapons are not “shelf weapons” and have to be manufactured and shipped, and this has been the source of the delay, but indicated that the British experts have given the assurance that as soon as the weapons are sourced they would be arriving to execute the training.
Refresher and specialised training programmes, locally and overseas are ongoing in several areas including traffic, narcotics criminal investigations and finance, Gajraj disclosed.
Community policing will be encouraged and continues to provide support to the law enforcement agencies in the fight against crime, and in this regard a dedicated unit within the Office of the Commissioner has been established to oversee the functioning of community policing groups, Gajraj announced.
Touching on initiatives to reduce fatal and serious injuries due to accidents, he noted that the seatbelt law is now in effect, but pointed out that the police have not started to prosecute defaulters as yet, giving persons with older models of vehicles time to install seatbelts. He however, observed that the majority of drivers have already complied with the new law.
Gajraj announced that traffic education of children will be a focal point in improving traffic safety and consciousness, explaining that the rationale is that if education starts early, it will help to change the attitude of road users especially pedestrians and cyclists.
On the issue of traffic lights, the minister explained that most of them currently in use were installed many years ago and as such are obsolete, and indicated that his Ministry and the Ministry of Works and Communication are working collaboratively to address the problem. He also disclosed that a consultant, Dr. Gowkarran Bodhoo is presently in the country to assist with the implementation of systems to deal with traffic issues.
Legislation to facilitate the use of radars and breathalysers by police, will soon be introduced to curb speeding and drunken driving respectively, to further improve safety on the roads, the minister informed the media.
On improving the efficiency of the operations of the Joint Services, Gajraj disclosed that presently a diagnostic study for computerisation within the three services is being conducted. “We are currently engaged in a Diagnostic Study for computerisation of the three Services. This project will allow the Ministry to utilize Information Technology to improve efficiency in the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Prison Service and the Guyana Fire Service,” Gajraj reported.
Responding to a question on the whereabouts of the seized computer equipment that was brought into the country allegedly through illegal means, the minister replied that it is in the possession of the GPF, but denied that it is being used by the police.
However, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Luncheon had indicated that he was advised that the computer was being used by the police.