President of Guyana, Dr Irfaan Ali has issued a call to the Guyana Police Force to operate the Public Communications Unit in a manner that is proactive to relevant issues in the country.
In his urge for the Police to operate in this manner, Ali emphasised that law enforcement cannot adopt a reactive approach in educating the public.
The President voiced, “I wish to bring into focus, the Public Communication Unit of the Guyana Police Force. It should not be a reactive unit. It must be a proactive unit aimed at continuously educating the public, aimed at continuously positioning the work of the Force, bringing issues that are relevant to the execution of the mandate of the Police Force to the floor.”
His remarks come on the heels of public scrutiny on information coming from the Force in recent events relating to crime and accidents. Consequently, the Head of State agreed that the country’s public engagement and educational campaign should be sustained.
“Many are saying after the deadly accident in West Demerara that why is it persons under the influence continue to be a hindrance to public safety and rightfully so. We need an education programme that is not one-off. We need an educational campaign on this issue; a campaign that is sustained, built on a communication strategy and incorporates all the avenues in which the public receives information.”
He ordered tangible action from the GPF in not only education, but intelligence-led operations to prevent and intercept criminal activities.
“I would like to see some tangible, actionable targets in relation to this. The Force relies on members of the public for intelligence, information and support to prevent crime and those engaged in criminal enterprises. This support is vital to effective law enforcement. The public, in turn, relies on the Police for service and protection,” Ali contended.
Credit was given to the Police for the intelligence-led approach undertaken during the reporting period of 2021, which saw effective strategies that affected their work in a positive way. This, he remarked, must be continued in communities.
“I must say that high percentage of Police action in the just concluded year was based on good intelligence gathering. I have seen the results of intelligence-led approach to policing…An effective crime prevention strategy requires that the Force make societal interventions to reduce the incidents of crime. Over the years, the Guyana Police Force has been addressing risk groups and working with them to reduce the behavioural threats and also, offering them authoritative pathway.”
On February 16, 2021, radio broadcaster Stan Gouveia announced that he was appointed Deputy Communications Director of the GPF while former Editor-in-Chief of the State-owned Guyana Chronicle, Mark Ramotar became the Director. Gouveia and Ramotar assumed their new roles effective February 1.
This new arrangement is a deviation from standard practice whereby a serving member of the Force would assume responsibility for the organisation’s public relations.
Acting Commissioner of Police Nigel Hoppie had explained after that this decision was in keeping with recommendations made in 2019 by two United Kingdom (UK) media and communication consultants.
He had disclosed that the UK consultants, Dr Joan Boyd and Susan Corbett, had recommended, among several other things, the civilianisation of the Guyana Police Force following a visit to Guyana back in 2019 as part of a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) mission.