Street crime victims not poor, home ministry says

The Home Affairs Ministry says current data shows that poor families are not disproportionately affected by “the security crisis,” as claimed by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), but rather well-heeled individuals.

The ministry on Thursday released figures in a bid to disqualify APNU’s assertions. “The primary victims of robberies committed in 2013 were young individuals, primarily males, walking in the streets, especially late in the nights and during the early hours of the mornings,” a ministry statement read.

The statement further said that 81 of the 140 persons who fell victim to street crimes in ‘A’ Division last year were young people ages 18-35, and that 91 were males. The ministry also said that of the 122 “street crimes” which occurred in ‘A’ Division last year, 56 occurred between 21:15 hrs and 06:00 hrs.

Essentially the ministry is arguing young males waking the street late at night and early in the morning suffered more crimes than poor families.

The ministry said that because the primary items persons were robbed of last year were smartphones, including the BlackBerry and Samsung Galaxy, they could not be labelled as poor.

The ministry said cell phone theft was associated with 38 of the 122 “street crimes” documented last year. “It is strongly suggestive therefore that such persons’ incomes must have been of such sum so as to at least render them capable of affording the

purchase and upkeep of a smart-cell phone that ranges from $35,000 to $90,000 (BlackBerry), and $90,000 to $135,000 (Samsung Galaxy), the statement said.”

APNU recently lamented the existing crime situation in Guyana and asserted that crime has taken a heavier toll on the poor than any other group in Guyana’s society. APNU noted the 7% increase in reports of robbery under arms; the 16% increase in the number of armed robberies involving the use of firearms and the proliferation of other crimes including piracy, banditry, murders, interpersonal violence, and road fatalities.

These realities have led the coalition to conclude that Guyana is suffering a “security crisis”. However, in addition to refuting claims that the poor are disproportionately affected, the ministry rejected the assertion that Guyana has a security crisis.

In its release the ministry said that such crises exist in Syria, South Sudan, Iraq and Turkey, and that the situation in Guyana “is a far cry from the conditions obtaining in those countries.”

Opposition Leader David Granger, in response to a question on the statement at a press conference yesterday, said that Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee seems to be “divorced from reality” with regard to serious crimes in Guyana.

“I don’t know which planet the person who made that statement is living on but I have visited victims of piracy on the Corentyne,” Granger said. “I have spoken with wives who have been battered, [the families of] poor women who have been killed by their spouses and I pointed out that the murder rate in 2013 is similar to that in 2004 during the troubles on the East Coast and most of the victims were poor people.

“I know he speaks about Samsung and BlackBerry but we are talking about serious crimes. We are talking about murders, rapes and armed robberies… I don’t know, he seems to be divorced from reality. I don’t know if we are talking about the same thing, I can’t imagine the bulk of the population would agree with Rohee,” Granger said.

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