Private sector welcomes security reforms but says pay must be boosted

“Deep satisfaction” was today expressed by the Private Sector Commission (PSC) on the security plan unveiled by Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee on Monday but the umbrella body also warned that for the measures to be successful pay levels for all personnel in the police, prison and fire services have to be lifted.

In a statement, the PSC said that it viewed the reforms announced by Rohee as critical to the protection of the citizenry and said that their full potential would only be realized if they win the support of all Guyanese.

On the other hand, the PSC said that “Many ranks do not earn a wage capable of supporting a family and we are concerned, that the pace of reform may be adversely affected, or falter, if attention is not paid to this critical issue”.

Raising pay levels was not addressed in Rohee’s presentation.

The full PSC statement follows:

“Over the years, Citizens, Civil Society Groups and Professional Bodies in Guyana have voiced numerous concerns over the Security Sectors with calls for critical reform. The Private Sector Commission has had the opportunity to review the recently announced five year plan for the modernization and restructuring of the Security Sectors that fall under the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs, and notes with deep satisfaction the fact that the reform programme speaks not only to the Guyana Police Force, but also other facets of the Security Sector such as the Fire Service, Prison Service, Community Policing Groups as well as the umbrella agency – the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“The reform programme is geared towards critical changes for the promotion of effectiveness, efficiency and the overall strengthening of public security. The PSC has identified certain key areas in the five-year plan, which in the interest of inclusivity, must be highlighted to the general population, in whose interest the plan has been formulated. These areas are:

1) Four main target areas in the Guyana Police Force, under the UK based Consultancy Group: Administrative Strengthening (particularly as it relates to standards for recruitment and retention of staff), Succession Planning, Integrity/Probity (aimed at improving professionalism, integrity and accountability) and the strengthening of Public Relations.

2) Greater emphasis on local and overseas training for members of the Guyana Police Force, with greater budget allocation for training programmes. Simultaneously, a policy position has been adopted whereby members of the Guyana Police Force, Prison Service and Fire Service can proceed on study leave to pursue academic studies at the University of Guyana and other tertiary educational institutions without losing any benefits and entitlements.

3) Institutional Reform at the Ministry of Home Affairs, to pave the way for an organizational structure conducive to greater responsiveness, deeper inter-organizational linkages for greater security sector cohesiveness and impact, increased border surveillance, and a number of other improvements.

4) As it relates to the Guyana Prison Service, a number of measures have been identified in the strategy including enhancement of the security and infrastructure of existing prison facilities, modernization of penal legislation, placing emphasis on successful offender reintegration into society, etc.

5) The introduction of “Houses of Justice” initially in remote areas, which will bring together under the same roof, several official institutions responsible for social service and public safety. During the first quarter of 2013, 10 Houses of Justice is to be developed in regions 2 and 3.

6) The strengthening of Neigbourhood Policing Groups, initially by the recruitment of 100 more ranks. The reform plan lists this as one of the initiatives to aid in the reduction of domestic violence and child abuse, by ensuring patrol presence in vulnerable areas on a 24 hours basis. Simultaneous with this, the plan acknowledges the need for the recruitment of more social workers to be present at police stations/magisterial districts on a permanent basis.

“The areas listed above represent some of the measures identified in the reform plan. The PSC views the proposed reform as critical for the protection of the citizenry, the promotion of foreign and local investments and the improvements in the livelihoods of all Guyanese. We urge the public to pay keen attention to the measures being proposed and to appreciate the intended reforms. These measures can only realize their full potential and bring about the type of change needed if they receive the support of all Guyanese.

“The Commission also supports the hiring of international police officers as consultants to speed up the transfer of skills and expertise, which together with the much greater emphasis on training and exposure to sophisticated international policing practices will assist in bringing the Guyana Police service to a standard second to none.

“The involvement of a professional civilian component in the administration and implementation of the five-year Strategic Plan and beyond will be of tremendous benefit and will improve overall efficiency.

“The Private Sector Commission is, however, of the view that for these plans to be successful they must be augmented by lifting of the level of remuneration for all personnel in the Police, Fire and Prison services and calls upon the government to give this priority in order to attract new recruits and built pride in the services.  Many ranks do not earn a wage capable of supporting a family and we are concerned, that the pace of reform may be adversely affected, or falter, if attention is not paid to this critical issue”.

 



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