PNC, coalition Govt divided on crime situation

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-Party dissatisfied with Ramjattan’s efforts as Govt satisfied says Harmon

The coalition Government appears to be divided on the issue of the escalating crime rate as the People’s National Congress (PNC) on Thursday called for more to be done to address the soaring issue.

According to the Georgetown district of the PNC, crime and the consequential loss of life cannot continue unabated. In a statement on Thursday, the party called on organisations and communities to collaborate in ending crime.

Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan

The Georgetown district of the party referred to the recent murders of two elderly women – Constance Fraser and Phyllis Caesar – and urged the Public Security Ministry to do more than it is presently doing.

“The Georgetown District’s Executive Committee is calling on the Ministry of Public Security and the Judiciary to intensify their actions regarding security and for the Judiciary to impose stiffer penalties for violence committed crimes,” the party noted.

When asked about the statement during a post-Cabinet press briefing on Thursday, Minister of State Joseph Harmon threw his support behind the Public Security Ministry. He noted that the Ministry, headed by former Alliance For Change (AFC) Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan, is undergoing capacity building. Harmon went on to distance himself from the statement.

“The party and the Government are two separate entities. So, the Government is satisfied. You have to deal with the statement made by the party. I am making a statement on behalf of the Government,” Harmon insisted.

According to Harmon, there was a need for senior officers in the Guyana Police Force to transmit their knowledge to other, inexperienced ranks. He noted that a higher level of training and competence is being facilitated. In the interim, Harmon noted that the cooperation of the public in solving crime remained important.

“Very often, people in the communities know who the criminals are. And so what we are asking for is that partnership. We’re asking for the people to inform the Police. Get involved in the policing groups. And let us try to ensure crime is beaten.”

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon

“We believe that the work being done by the Police Force and all the various agencies that provide us with training and resources, we want to stick all of that in a matrix that says to the criminals, your days are up.”

In August, the Guyana Police Force had announced that it recorded an 11 per cent decrease in serious crime up to the end of July, when compared to the same period last year. In June, the Force also reported a seven per cent decrease in serious crimes.

Based on statistics provided by the Guyana Police Force, there was a 16 per cent reduction in the incidents of murder for the month of June; a four per cent decrease in incidents of robbery wherein no instrument was used; a five per cent decrease in incidents of robbery under arms.

There was also a four per cent decrease in incidents of robbery under arms wherein instruments other than firearms were used; but there has been a 64 per cent increase in incidents of robbery with violence, and a 53 per cent increase in incidents of larceny from the person.

In addition, the Police had recorded a six per cent decrease in incidents of rape, as well as a one per cent decrease in incidents of burglary and a 19 per cent decrease in incidents of break and enter and larceny.

However, the stats provided proved that 70 murders were committed for the year thus far, with those stemming from disorderly behaviour topping the list with 32. Thirteen murders were committed as a result of domestic disputes, 11 stemmed from robberies, eight unknown, four executions and two persons were killed other than the reasons mentioned above.

And though the statistics show a decrease from last year, Guyana still exceeds the regional crime average. According to a report the Inter-American Development Bank compiled under the Adequate Housing and Urban Accessibility Programme, Guyana had a rate of 33.8 murders per 100,000 people; above the regional average of 26.

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