By Desilon Daniels
Albouystown is the focus of the Guyana Police Force’s (GPF) newest initiative, which aims at the development of a safe neighbourhood through interventions by the force and partner organisations in the community.
‘Project Impact Albouystown’ was launched yesterday in the community, which according to Commissioner of Police (ag) Seelall Persaud, was chosen for the first project based on an analysis which showed that the area was the most challenging community in Guyana at present.
“Generation after generation, a crop of criminals was being produced in the community. Over time, the community remained infested with illicit drugs;
rates of crime and violence remain constantly high,” Persaud said.
According to Ivelaw Whittaker, Public Relations and Press Officer for the GPF, the initiative is long overdue. “The Guyana Police Force has at last recognised the importance and necessity of forging positive relationships with communities and the public in general,” Whittaker said.
Whittaker added that, over time, the GPF has been moving towards social intervention and had developed a number of projects aimed at establishing better police relations, especially amongst the youths of society.
“The Guyana Police Force remains committed to the fostering of good police-community relations,” he said. He continued, “We are working on the building of that trust and confidence at the community level which is solely imperative to our public image and the carrying out of our roles and responsibilities.”
The GPF is collaborating on the project with two faith-based organisations in the area, Heavenly Light Gospel Fellowship and Masjid An-Najm & Social Centre of Albouystown.
Representatives from both organisations commended Persaud and his team for the initiative and indicated the necessity of such an intervention in the area.
“Research has shown that the development of inherent skills, talents and abilities of the people has a direct link and correlation to the overall development of the country… If not nurtured, then of course we know the consequences can be catastrophic for any society, for any country at large,” Nahim Mohamed of the masjid said.
Elsworth Williams of the Heavenly Light Gospel Fellowship echoed Mohamed’s words and emphasised the church’s commitment to the GPF’s goal.
“We of the Christian community and the residents of Albouystown want you, the commissioner and your team, to know of our commitment towards law and order and to say to you that we respect the work that the Guyana Police Force has done, is doing, and we look forward to working with you in the enhancement of this community,” Williams said.
Williams also called for increased focus on women’s rights. “We are hoping that as a result of collaborating with you, we will see a decline in domestic violence and we will be able to see our women taking their rightful and just place in this community… One of the things—with this initiative—I would love to see is the rights of women being respected, and enforced and celebrated in our community,” Williams emphasised.
‘Hand in the guns…’
During his address, Persaud outlined a number of focus areas for the programme, established through careful investigations conducted by the GPF.
Though this initiative is not the first social intervention project, previous ones have failed due to unaddressed “gaps”, Persaud said.
According to the commissioner, analysis showed that youths between the ages of 16 and 30 form the majority of perpetrators of serious crimes.
The root cause, Persaud said, is the breakdown of the family unit compounded by negative social influences such as truancy, criminal role models, illicit drugs and weapons and environmental nuisances.
“Our strategy therefore is to work in partnership with the joint services, government and governmental organisations, faith-based organisations, the private sector and, very importantly, leaders of those communities we go into,” Persaud said. “Our approach will be a comprehensive mix of law enforcement and social intervention activities.”
Such activities, he revealed, will include dealing with crime and disorder with a heavy emphasis on gun crimes. The streets, Persaud said, will be occupied with foot patrols and the stop and search method will be employed to prevent persons moving around with guns and offensive weapons.
He also said that domestic violence and gender-based violence as well as the crackdown on illicit drugs and youth gangs will be major priorities for the programme.
Vocational skills training will also make up a huge part of the impact programme.
“We will be primarily supporting activities of the Christian and Islamic organisations that are resident in Albouystown,” Persaud said. “They already have a number of programmes to address vocational skills training,” he added.
To bolster the training, six additional computers were donated yesterday by the business community of Guyana to the church’s existing computer training programme. The programme, Persaud said, would afford its participants the opportunity to learn computer repairs, engineering and programming.
In addition to the computers, the business sector also provided 100 bins to be placed within the community while a portion of land has been provided by Mayor Hamilton Green for the establishment of a playfield.
Persaud disclosed that a planned collaboration with the Guyana Prisons Service is in the works for the rehabilitation and support of ex-convicts who have moved back into the area after incarceration.
Before taking his leave, Persaud issued a special call to those in the area who are engaged in nefarious schemes: “Hand in the guns; hand in the guns, throw away the bad habits! Come let us help you earn a living by conventional means and be respected positively within your community. Come with us, if you don’t then you will have to confront a very heavy concentration of our efforts,” he warned.