Home Minister Clement Rohee yesterday announced major reforms of the police force starting this year, with civilian oversight of the implementation of a strategy that emphasises more training and possible hiring of foreign police officers to serve as consultants for critical reorganisation.
Watch video of the annoucement below
At a forum on the security sector at the Police Training Facility, Rohee also outlined plans for the prison and fire services as well as his ministry, under government’s Public Safety and Security Strategy,
which he said is now on the cusp of a critical phase.
He also said the leadership of the Guyana Police Force—which is to be renamed the Guyana Police Service, with the blessing of Cabinet already given—is already on board with the plan and he emphasised the need for the process to be supported by all Guyanese, including the opposition. The support of the opposition, which passed a motion of no-confidence against Rohee in the National Assembly and has been calling for his sacking, is especially crucial since the reforms outlined call for major funding under this year’s budget.
According to Rohee, changes to the police force will be ushered in with the implementation of the 2013 to 2017 police Strategic Plan, for which 10 “high-level civilian professionals in non-line positions” will be hired within the force to ensure “a high degree of professional, technical and efficient inputs to guarantee implementation of the plan.”
The plan, he noted, was drawn up by the UK-based Capita Symonds Consultancy in 2010, while the Implementation Plan was drawn up and commenced by the US-based Julian Laite Consultancy in February, 2012. He said implementation of the strategic plan is pegged at an annual cost of $35 million.
Side by side with the implementation of the strategic plan, he added, the UK based Capita-Symonds Con-sutancy will be contracted to focus on the critical areas of “Administration,” “Succes-sion planning,” “Integrity/ Probity” and “Public Rela-tions/Communications” in the GPF.
On this point, Rohee said that implementation of these areas may see the involvement of international police officers as consultants, though he added that the contractual agreement will primarily see the hiring of highly-qualified specialists.
The first phase of the consultancy will last for a period of four to six weeks, beginning this month and it is pegged at a cost of US$129,750.00 or $25 million and the minister said his ministry is committed to ensuring that it and the implementation of the strategic plan would be carried out within the agreed time frames.
Rohee also announced progress on reforms previously recommended for the police force, including in the report of the Disciplined Forces Commission that was set up almost a decade ago to look into the operations of the agencies that fall under the purview of the Home Ministry. Government has faced severe criticism over the years for its failure to act on the reforms, despite its commitments.
Current Opposition Leader David Granger was among the members of the commission.
Among the recommendations were the changing of the name of the police force to police service—which Rohee said was approved by Cabinet at a meeting in November 14, 2012—as well as the hiring of civilian staff for clerical work that was being down by policemen and women although the force was understaffed, and better training.
About the former, Rohee said the legal and other adjustments brought about by the change are “profound and far reaching” and that it will result in a number of institutional and operational adjustments to the force.
He also disclosed that efforts to civilianise mutually agreed clerical positions within the force has already started with the employment of 60 data entry clerks to input data generated by the Integrated Crime Information System facilities at 42 police stations countrywide. Further, he said a qualified civilian/professional has been recruited to the post of Policy Analyst at Force Headquarters.
Addressing training, Rohee said that in preparation for this year’s budget, the ministry has submitted a “radically different draft budget” to the Ministry of Finance for its consideration.
“Whereas in the past only five per cent of the Ministry of Home Affairs’ budgetary provision was allocated for local training, for 2013 more than 30% of the budgetary provision will be utilised for training both locally and overseas,” he said. He also announced that the ministry in consultation with the senior management of the GPF has agreed that for the year 2013, it will be mandatory for ranks from the level of constable to assistant commissioner will be sent abroad for training. Added to that, Cabinet has recently approved a policy on study leave for police, prison and fire services ranks, allowing them to pursue academic studies at the University of Guyana and other institutions of higher learning locally and overseas without losing benefits and entitlements.
Rohee also told the forum that an agreement has been reached with the Commissioner of Police to have Police Division E & F delinked and to form two separate and distinct divisions; with ‘E’ Divisional Headquarters located at Linden; and ‘F’ Divisional Headquarters at Force Headquarters in the city for logistical purposes.
He added that acting Commissioner of Police Leroy Brumell has assured him that the two divisions will be headed by two experienced senior police ranks at the senior superintendent level. In addition, he said he was further assured that adequate support staff, equipment and land and water transport will be made available to service the two divisions to ensure their smooth and effective functioning.
As a result, there are now seven Police Divisions: ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’, ‘E’, ‘F’ and ‘G’.
Rohee also announced that on the advice of his ministry, Brumell has identified several police ranks at the level of cadets to be trained at the Art Williams and Harry Wendt Aeronautical Engineering School and the Guyana Defence Force, with the intention of establishing a police aeronautical branch. Strong possibilities now exist for the force to own and operate its own aircraft, he said.
Work to complete the state of the art forensic laboratory is moving apace and a Barbadian consultant has been hired to oversee the process by April, 2013, Rohee also said. Also, a draft strategic plan for the laboratory, addressing administration and management, has been formulated and is now being studied by the ministry.
Rohee said changes are also envisaged at the Guyana Prison Service, for which consultations have already begun on the implications of transitioning it to a Guyana Correctional Service.
He also announced that a strategic and implementation plan for the service has been adopted by Cabinet. The cost to implement the plan will be US$4,155,550 or $831,110,419 over a five-year period, he explained, with priorities identified as being modernising and making secure, existing prison infrastructure; modernising penal laws; enhancing human resource management and financial administration; strengthening inter-agency collaboration; and promoting successful offender reintegration into society.
Like with the police reform, he said a civilian oversight body is to be established and a number of civilian professionals are to be employed to ensure implementation of the plan.
Rohee noted that a number of measures have already been implemented consistent with the plan, including the establishment of a Recruit-ment and Training Board; a Sentence Management Board; and an Agricultural Development Board.
These, he said, comprise mainly civilians who have expressed a willingness to serve. Rebranding has also been suggested for the Guyana Fire Service, which, at a recent retreat, it was recommended be renamed the Guyana Fire and Rescue Service. The proposed change of name reflects a long established function carried out by the fire service, Rohee said, while adding that the recommendation is currently before Cabinet for consideration.