Cops come under scrutiny for inadequate response to crime in West Berbice

-blame limited resources

Faced with concerns by businesses and residents over the inadequate response to criminal activities on the West Coast of Berbice, the police leadership in the Division has blamed limited resources and has invited assistance from the community.

Members of the West Berbice Chamber of Commerce and Industry met with senior officers from both ‘B’ and ‘C’ Division last Wednesday and sounded their concerns about the inadequate police response, the lack of patrols and the apparent lack of manpower.

Afterward, president of the Chamber Shabeer Baksh stated that he was happy with the fruitful discussion.

Baksh said the Chamber is looking forward to working with the police to diminish the climbing rate of crime in Berbice, although the meeting was told that there was no rise in criminal offences on the West Coast of Berbice.

During the meeting, which was held at the boardroom of the Region Five Regional Demo-cratic Council, members of the Chamber questioned why it takes so long for the police to respond to reports of crimes. Some residents made reference to a recent armed robbery where a businessman was brutally attacked. It took police approximately 35 to 40 minutes to arrive at the scene.

Disappointment was also voiced over the inadequate staffing at Blairmont Police Station.

Members stated that on many occasions when they contact the station to lodge a report concerning criminal activity, they are told that only one officer is present and “sometimes that one officer is a female.” They also pointed to instances where the telephone would ring out or it would be engaged.

Those who reside in the environs of the Blairmont station also stated that Rosignol, a business hotspot located a short distance away, should be given attention.

In response, Assistant Com-mander of ‘B’ Division Marlon Chapman disclosed that there is a limited amount of vehicles in the West Berbice district to respond to crime in a timely manner. He said at one point the Fort Wellington Police Station did not even have a vehicle to conduct patrols because it was in the mechanic’s shop. The vehicle has since been repaired.

Chapman also said that the Division has made requests for more vehicles to be made available to enhance its ability to respond to crimes in a timelier manner.

He also welcomed assistance from members of the business community for a vehicle to assist in patrols, after he was asked by the Chamber members about how they could help. One member pledged his support to help aid with anti-crime patrols in the night. Members also indicated that they would be willing to raise finances to purchase additional vehicles for officers to conduct patrols. It is hoped that with the vehicles present in the communities, more patrols can be done to minimise the number of illegal activities in the community.

Responding to the shortage of manpower, Chapman pointed to the shortage of staff in the Guyana Police Force. Nonetheless, he said the Division has requested more ranks.

Addressing the situation specifically at the Blairmont Police Station, he said an inspector, a detective and a male subordinate officer were recently added to the staff.

At the same time, Chapman invited men from the community policing groups to assist the station with anti-crime patrols at nights. He said a member of the police force would be a part of their anti-crime patrols.

Lawmen from both ‘B’ and ‘C’ Divisions also informed that they have intensified their anti-crime patrols, raids and roadblocks to minimise criminal activities and ensure there is a safe neighbourhood.

Other matters discussed at the meeting were the issuing of firearm licences to members of the business community, noise nuisance, the garbage situation in West Berbice and loitering animals on the road.