Crime upsurge sparked migration, firearms rush
Stabroek News
April 17, 2003

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Minister of Home Affairs Ronald Gajraj says the crime upsurge has led to a drop in tourism and a rush to firearm acquisition and migration.

But the suppression of this upsurge is a national priority, and government will continue to support crime-fighting agencies by improving their capacity, Gajraj told Parliament during the 2003 Budget debate held at the Ocean View Convention Centre, Liliendaal.

He gave the assurance that government will continue to provide to the families of slain police officers a grant of no less than $1M.

He noted too that of late insurance companies have hiked their premiums for policies issued to those in the police force.

The Home Affairs Minister said further that training in intelligence gathering, investigation and the use of special weaponry in certain situations were key to the efforts of the force.

He said that the Guyana Prison Service, which also falls under his purview, had the least number of escapes in 2002. In spite of that, he called last year “the most catastrophic year for the prisons,” referring no doubt to the February 23 jailbreak when five armed and dangerous prisoners escaped, after killing a prison officer and seriously wounding another.

Gajraj declared that since that time, the criminal architecture in Guyana has dramatically changed.

He said that during last year, $35 million was spent for works at the Mazaruni and Georgetown prisons, and 319 officers were trained.

He also disclosed that feasibility studies were done with a view to relocating the Georgetown prison facility, with the most likely location being somewhere along the Linden/ Soesdyke Highway.

Calling the various challenges facing Guyana “formidable”, and noting that they could result in social dislocation of a magnitude never before experienced, he said government will continue to take such measures as necessary to preserve life and property.

Gajraj said that during last year, government had conducted national consultations on the crime situation, during which persons were able to give their suggestions and recommendations.

He noted that during last year also, provision was made for superior weaponry and protective gear such as bulletproof vests and shields for members of the police force. These, Gajraj said, have significantly improved the capacity of the force.

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