Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee last Thursday called on the police to make more use of the images captured by close circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed around the capital in order to identify suspects in crimes, while also saying that the force needs to do more to address the increasing number of gun crimes.
“More use must be made of the images derived from the cameras that have been installed around the city as a tool in identifying suspects who have committed robberies within the view of the cameras,” Rohee told ranks attending the opening of the three-day Police Officers’ Annual Conference.
When asked last November if the images are being utilised by the Guyana Police Force, Rohee had told Stabroek News “no, not as far as I am aware.” He explained that the use of the footage has to be cleared by a board that has been established to overlook the functioning of the unit.
He had also noted that the footage captured by the cameras is being stored at the Central Intelligence Unit building, located behind Castellani House. “Whenever there is need to use them as they so decide, they will be used,” Rohee said.
Government had promised the installation of the cameras at the height of the crime spree back in 2005. It was felt that the cameras could go a far way in helping to solve some of the crimes being committed in the city, especially armed robberies that soared towards the end of that year despite a heightened police presence. However, the installation of cameras did not begin until last August.
Rohee also told the police officers that there was no doubt that last year was a troubling one for the police force, which was faced with difficult issues that impacted national security. He listed the disturbances at Linden and Agricola as well as the upsurge in the number of gun-related robberies, the significant number of execution-type killings and the incidents of robbery and murder in mining districts as some of the major challenges. “In my view and that of the government, you were able to successfully manage several of those challenges and at the end of the year, from the statistics, the force was able to achieve some successes in its effort to maintain law and order throughout Guyana,” he said.
But Rohee noted that in spite of this, there is still a need for increased efforts to be made at all levels by officers to address the many critical operational and administrative issues.
In particular, he noted the “relatively high” amount of robberies and crimes generally that are being committed in the country, especially with the use of firearms. He said that even though there is a continued seizure of illegal firearms, the increase in the level of gun-related crimes needs to be addressed more effectively.
Rohee told the police officers that the force is tasked with the provision of better citizen security and therefore more dedicated efforts must be made to reduce the incidents of robberies and other crimes in the country.
Rohee also used his address to acknowledge the support that has been provided to the various police stations and divisions by Station Management Committees, Community Policing Groups and the National Commission on Law and Order.
He said that the neighbourhood police ranks, who form “an integral part” of the police force, have played their part in supporting the efforts at controlling crime, especially at the community level.
Rohee also said that the ministry has conducted a review of the Crime Stoppers Programme that was operationalised in 2012 to allow members of the public to report crimes to the police via the telephone or cell phone. “We are heartened by the responses so far from citizens. I call on the police to support this initiative,” he said.
He added that the ministry is continuing its efforts to provide an “IT link up” for the entire force through the Integrated Crime Information System (ICIS). There is the need for more education to be provided to police ranks about the benefits of this system, he said.
According to Rohee, another innovation that is about to be launched is the “I Paid Bribe Project,” which is aimed at helping the force in curbing corruption within the country and in the force itself.