East Coast `wave of terror’
Police step up anti-crime campaign

Guyana Chronicle
April 8, 2004

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THE Police Force has stepped up its campaign in response to the recent crime wave on the East Coast Demerara, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, said yesterday.

At his weekly post-Cabinet press conference he described the recent upsurge in criminal activity on the east coast as a "wave of terror", adding that the police were maintaining a heightened presence there.

He said efforts were being intensified to establish Community Policing Groups which will help to respond to criminal attacks in the various villages.

Armed gangs have been terrorising communities in a recent wave of attacks.

Luncheon categorically denied allegations that the recent criminal activity was being stage-managed by the People's Progressive Party (PPP), amid claims that a bandit who was shot by police Sunday night and subsequently died was once an activist of the main partner in the governing PPP/Civic (PPP/C) alliance.

He pointed out that the main opposition People's National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) has gone a far way in rewriting the base of support for the PPP, adding that it is "unbelievable" that Buxton being the source of the crimes on the coast, would be used by the PPP to stage-manage criminal activity.

He said that the victims of the crimes would also disagree with the PNC/R allegations.

As regards the issue of the dead criminal being an activist of the PPP, Luncheon offered no comment, stating that it would be dealt with by the party.

Meanwhile, he said training of the special crime fighting unit (SWAT) by British experts has started but noted that it was too early to assess progress.

He was however optimistic that the training programme, which began Monday, would be successful.

He noted that the scheme must be seen as part of the reform of the Police Force as was outlined in the agreement between the governments of Guyana and the United Kingdom for the provision of assistance by the latter administration.

Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Ronald Gajraj, has said that the British team was involved in assessing training needs and planning the training programme.

He said he was engaged in lengthy discussions with the British team.

The minister said training will not be limited to the use of weapons, but will include logistics and geography, so that operations could be carried out in a transparent manner thereby withstanding scrutiny.

In the meantime, candidates who have been identified for the SWAT scheme will be brought to a certain level of training without delay.

This training will be intensive and involve both theoretical and practical examinations, he said.