Anti-crime fight in Berbice
More help promised to community groups
By Ruel Johnson
August 8, 2004
PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo and Commissioner of Police Winston Felix yesterday lauded the role of Community Policing Groups (CPGs) in trying to stem the crime wave in Berbice and promised them more help.
Mr Jagdeo and the top cop met CPG representatives in Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) at the Corriverton Town Centre.
The President declared zero tolerance against crime and promised to donate vehicles to boost crime fighting efforts in the region.
Mr Jagdeo noted that the CPGs in villages surrounding Buxton played a vital part in stemming the crime wave that prevailed between 2002 and 2003 on the East Coast Demerara.
He also referred to the crime wave in Albion, Berbice around the same period and pointed out that the presence and operation of the policing group also successfully dealt with that situation.
Although not an official part of the law enforcement system, the CPGs are a valuable extension of law enforcement in Guyana, the President declared.
During his discourse, he acknowledged complaints about policemen not responding to complaints and not reacting promptly on reported crime.
He said this is because the Police Force is largely understaffed, especially in Berbice.
The President pointed out that there are many vacancies in the Police Force and although he is willing to allocate more equipment and other resources to the police, this will prove no good if there are not enough people within the force.
Commenting on the crime wave in Berbice, President Jagdeo noted that there seems to be a pattern of crimes committed by deportees and in some instances certain communities help shield the criminals.
Members of the CPGs expressed concern on several issues to the President and Felix.
Some raised the need for firearms and the availability of vehicles and concerns about their relationship with the police.
They claimed members of the Force were not cooperating and pointed to one ongoing issue where police stations no longer provide gasoline for the vehicles used by the CPGs.
Responding to the latter, President Jagdeo called for a more clearly defined role of the CPGs and a better understanding of the way they interact with the Police Force.
Felix declared the Force’s support for CPGs working to stem the crime wave but said he was concerned about accountability of certain groups, and effectively managing the financial resources of the Police Force at specific periods.
The Commissioner said he supported the police providing gasoline to the CPGs but pointed out that this must be for patrolling purposes.
The President said he was delighted to be able to visit the region again and noted that although he could not do so regularly, he knew residents were aware of the difficulty of managing a large country, which has its population spread out over a wide geographical area.
He, however, said he is constantly receiving reports from across the country and is well aware of the situation in the region.
During his first day in Berbice yesterday, Mr. Jagdeo and his entourage which included Corriverton Mayor, Mr Roy Baijnauth, inspected ongoing repairs at the Rosignol ferry stelling.
He also held a series of meetings.
He met officials from the Guyana Sugar Corporation at Corriverton to discuss, among other issues, the building of the Berbice River Bridge, the crime situation in Berbice and recent developments in world trade concerning sugar
President Jagdeo will participate in and address a People’s Progressive Party Berbice county conference today.