PNCR alarmed at East Coast crime
-urges plan of action
March 26, 2004
The PNCR is urging the police to expeditiously set up and apply a plan of action to curb the alarming spate of crime especially on the East Coast.
And while the Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) has also expressed concern at the resurgence of criminal activity, Cabinet, according to its Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon, says it proves the law enforcement agencies have "unfinished business" on the East Coast.
Speaking at the PNCR weekly press conference yesterday, central executive member Lance Carberry said the images of brutality and assault witnessed recently in Beterverwagting, Triumph, Lusignan, Sophia and on the East Bank Demerara must be of grave concern to all Guyanese.
He said the plan of action "should focus on working closely with residents of the communities, taking suspects alive so that they could be interrogated, respecting the fundamental rights of citizens, and beefing up the rapid response capability of the Police Force."
According to Carberry, the PNCR has repeatedly made public its condemnation of all forms of criminality, "whether racially, politically or criminally motivated. We have also previously stated that unless the core causes of crime in our society are addressed, the crime situation will remain unsolved."
Meanwhile, Luncheon said, Cabinet has called on Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj to have police enhance community-policing groups.
Over the last few weeks there have been a number of robberies along the East Coast, reminiscent of those following the jail-break of 2002.
Carberry said the government should let the public know whether it intends to bring up the interim Disci-plined Forces Commission (DFC) report on police reforms in the National Assembly for debate and implementation. Further, the PNCR on Friday submitted to the Clerk of the National Assembly a motion calling for the Interim Report, which was presented to the Speaker of the National Assembly in December, to be debated and sent to the relevant sector committee for oversight of the implementation.
And the IAC said in a press release issued yesterday that the increase in criminal activity appears to coincide with an increase in political rhetoric and may signal a return to activities that characterised the politically driven crime wave that began with the Mash Day jailbreak.
The committee expressed to the new commissioner of police its deepest dissatisfaction with the apparent lack of success in solving "these politically-instigated and racially-focused crimes in light of the fact that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) has had more than two years of experience in dealing with heavily armed and organised criminals."
Contacted yesterday, a police source said that while there have been several robberies on the East Coast, these had not reached crisis status.
The source said the police have put a lot of measures in place to deal with the robberies and noted that robberies will always be committed. However, the amount committed at any given time fluctuates.
The source said that the force is reviewing its patrol strategy on the East Coast and has been involved in some anti-crime operations based on information received. The source also stated that the police would be focusing on areas where the criminals are said to be housed.
Another police source told Stabroek News that the force is attempting to utilise its limited resources to the best of its ability. This source pointed out that even though the police are on patrol on the East Coast, criminal elements would wait until the patrol had passed a particular area before they struck. "So they will hit gold at some point. We can't say we will stop robberies but we will minimise them," the source said. This source called on public-minded people to give the names of suspected criminals to the police.
And Commander of `C' Division, Deputy Commis-sioner, Edward Wills, had told GINA that the force has increased the manpower and vehicles deployed on the lower East Coast in the wake of the crime situation. He had said in recognition of the area being a potential trouble-spot at intervals, additional resources were sought and secured from police headquarters. The number of patrols is further boosted at night, complementing the increased security measures
One of the most brazen robberies recently occurred at Lusignan when some 15 gunmen beat and robbed two families last Friday night of cash and jewellery that they said were needed to replenish their armoury. One of the persons robbed, Zarina Singh and her family, were under siege for nearly two hours.
That attack occurred several days after bandits raided several shops in Beterverwagting. And on Tuesday night three armed bandits robbed Victoria, East Coast Demerara businessman, Joseph Lutchman, his clerk and some 12 customers who were in his grocery at the time.