Crime Stoppers nearer
By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
November 28, 2006

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THE process of establishing the long-awaited and internationally successful Crime Stoppers programme in Guyana was yesterday advanced when Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee met Director of the Trinidad and Tobago Crime Stoppers Board, Mr. Zamanath ‘Billy’ Ali.

“I think we have set ourselves certain goals and certain targets which by mid-2007 will see us in the mainstream of the Crime Stoppers programme, both at the regional and international levels,” Rohee told reporters immediately after the 90-minute meeting yesterday.

“In my own assessment of the situation…it is clear that we have the conditions necessary for the establishment of a Crime Stoppers programme in this country and the conversation with Mr. Ali has helped us to get a better sense of the steps that we need to take to advance the process,” he said.

Ali, who is also Trinidad’s representative on the Regional Crime Stoppers Board, arrived in Guyana yesterday morning specifically for the meeting with Rohee and in an effort to help advance the preparatory works before Guyana can establish the programme here.

Ali, who departed Guyana last evening, was invited here to brief Rohee and a local team comprising Police Commissioner Henry Greene and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ms. Angela Johnson on the process and the steps required in the immediate future for the establishment of a local Crime Stoppers organisation in Guyana.

Greene, who is very supportive of the efforts to establish the Crime Stoppers scheme in Guyana, and Johnson were both present during the meeting between Rohee and Ali at the Ministry of Home Affairs in Georgetown.

Greene believes the Crime Stoppers programme will be good for Guyana and is a “step in the right direction”.

“I think it is a move in the right direction since partnership between the police and public, including the business community is very, very important,” he declared.

Greene also called on members of the public to support the Police Force “a lot more than they are doing at the moment”, and assured that information and tips received from the public will be treated with utmost confidentiality.

The Police Commissioner also pledged the support of the Guyana Police Force for the programme and said the Force will work with the Board of Directors of the Crime Stoppers programme when it is established to ensure that the programme is a success in Guyana.

Noting that Guyana has in the past met representatives of Crime Stoppers International on establishing a programme here, Rohee said yesterday’s meeting with Ali was aimed at “taking the process a step further” and assured that this was achieved.

The Home Affairs Minister is also very optimistic that the programme, when established in Guyana, will receive good support from the public, including the private sector.

“At the community level, I think there is a tremendous amount of goodwill (and) at the level of the private sector, which I think will be extremely critical in supporting the Crime Stoppers programme, I believe and I am convinced that there is a tremendous amount of goodwill there as well…,” Rohee said.

He also welcomed the support from the Guyana Police Force pledged by Commissioner Greene, noting “we have the full support of the police which is a critical factor in the whole process”.

Rohee said he will shortly be taking certain steps to approach the private sector to solicit their support for the programme.

“I have reason to believe that the representatives of the private sector are not unaware of the significance of the Crime Stoppers programme and therefore that puts the programme in good stead in the establishment of such a programme here in Guyana.”

According to him, Guyana would be very happy to be a part of the Crime Stoppers programme, joining with the other countries in the Caribbean where the scheme has already been established.

“Having regard for the successes of Crime Stoppers International, we would have our work to do to ensure that the community and the private sector buy into this programme,” Rohee posited.

Ali said that by the end of their meeting yesterday, agreements were reached on various issues, specifically the things to be done before the programme is launched.

“The ministry has some things that they have to do. I have some information that I need to prepare and get back to the ministry very swiftly so that we can keep within a timeframe which the minister is going to decide on and make public soon,” Ali told reporters.

“My purpose here this morning has been filled; we had a very fruitful meeting and I think a Crime Stoppers programme will be established here in Guyana very shortly. I think it is something that is necessary and something that will help local enforcement as it has helped law enforcement around the world,” he said.

“I am very honoured to be here to help and be a part of this process and give any support the Ministry of Home Affairs would require – both from a regional perspective and from an international perspective,” Ali said.

Crime Stoppers, he said, should be seen as a relationship or a marriage between law enforcement, the community and the media.

“It shows that the information lies within the community. The public, the people out there know who the criminals are and for various reasons – mostly that they wanted anonymity and from fear of appraisal, they don’t call the police force directly. So Crime Stoppers is a simple mechanism - it is a number that you can call and you can be confident that the call is anonymous,” Ali explained.

He said tips taken are passed on to law enforcement and investigated and if an arrest and conviction arises out of that information, rewards are given.

The Crime Stoppers programme started in 1976 following the brutal murder of a pump attendant in New Mexico. Following this incident, a re-enactment of the crime scene was televised and based on information received an arrest was made in 24 hours.

Crime Stoppers is a non-profit community programme designed to combat the heightened levels of fear resulting from the increase in certain types of crime.

It is a partnership amongst the community, the police and the media and allows the public to assist in the fight against crime without fear of being identified or exposed as it guarantees anonymity and confidentiality and pays rewards to callers for information which proves useful.

The Crime Stoppers programme entails setting up a hotline or hotlines (telephone numbers) where members of the public are encouraged to call in and give anonymous information about crime. This information is then allocated or referred to the relevant law enforcement agency to respond to it and in some cases rewards are given.

Crime Stoppers is not intended to replace the Police Emergency Number. In many countries the programme hopes that rather than receiving calls of an offence taking place, example a male person stealing tyres from a vehicle, it would receive a call from a person who has knowledge of a warehouse full of stolen tyres.

This information often comes from the fringe elements of criminal society and this is why it is necessary to have a reward fund as an incentive for these people to phone.

Through the Crime Stoppers programme the general community becomes the eyes and ears of the police force and this has resulted in a number of wanted persons being apprehended, including murderers, rapists and criminals, in other countries.

For those wondering how it is possible to pay a reward to an anonymous person, the method used in a number of countries is that all callers are given code numbers when they contact Crime Stoppers.

If the caller wishes to claim a reward, they merely have to nominate a branch of a particular bank and the caller goes to that bank and asks for the manager and provides their code number and the amount of the reward.

Nothing is signed and the caller retains their anonymity. Those two pieces of information are all the manager needs to pay the caller the reward in cash. Other countries employ various other methods and mechanisms to give out the rewards while protecting the person giving the information.

Crime Stoppers programmes have been established in several countries around the world, including the Caribbean countries of Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago.