The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) yesterday announced approval of a US$15M ($3B) security loan for Guyana citing the nearly doubled homicide rate since 2000 among other problems.
In what critics will say is a further clear sign that the PPP/C government is still unable to get a grip on crime despite numerous interventions, the IDB said that the new citizen security programme is intended to help communities better resolve conflicts in non-violent ways, improve police effectiveness and availability of crime data, and provide opportunities to rehabilitate and return prisoners to society.
The project will focus on 20 communities that have the highest rates of homicides, robberies, burglaries and domestic violence. These communities have not yet been named.
“Guyana´s homicide rates have nearly doubled since 2000, to 20.7 per 100,000, and the country suffers from high rates of robberies and domestic violence, with one out of every six women reporting physical abuse in the past year”, an IDB release yesterday said. In the project profile on its website, the IDB said that the national robbery rate here (214.9/100,000) “significantly exceeds global averages, though the burglary rate (143/100,000) is below.”
The opposition and civil society groups have pilloried long-serving Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee on these same areas but little change has occurred. The opposition has called on several occasions for Rohee to resign and piloted a motion of no-confidence in Parliament against him. Critics have said that a variety of security initiatives embarked upon by successive PPP/C governments have missed the mark as they have not addressed root and branch reform of the Guyana Police Force and the tackling of deep-seated corruption.
The IDB release said that the $3B programme will fund a series of surveys to measure changes in levels of “crime victimization and citizens’ perception of security, a national survey to understand the extent and causes of domestic violence and violence against women as well as a crime and violence study in Amerindian communities”.
The programme also aims to provide 8,400 individuals with vocational training and conduct 240 training workshops for community members, ranging from mentoring programmes to job placement.
“The project will set up an evidence-based community policing model that includes training, technological improvements, and crime and violence surveys to improve data availability. About 3,400 officers are to receive community engagement training and 1,700 …will attend courses on forensic and investigation techniques”, the statement said. Deficiencies in the investigative capacity of the police force have been lamented upon under PPP/C governments since 1992.
Planned actions to improve rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners, the IDB release said, include a prison census in five jails and the design of a new case management system, among other outputs.
Half of the US$15 million loan will be financed from the IDB´s Fund for Special Operations, which carries a 0.25 percent interest rate and a 40-year amortization period. The remainder will be financed from ordinary capital with a fixed interest rate and a 30-year amortization period.
The taking on of further debt from the IDB will likely be an issue for critics as the bank had already provided substantial resources to address citizen security. However, despite this, murders and other serious crimes are significantly up and a two-year-old plan which was presented by Rohee on the last day of 2012 has not yielded much.
Nearly two years ago on January 28, 2013, Rohee signed a $25M deal with UK consultancy Capita Symonds for the provision of consultancy services for the Guyana Police Force’s Security Sector Strategic Plan. That plan and the ground-breaking Strategic Management Department composed of civilians to monitor its implementation have encountered troubled waters.
The contract was expected to last about four to six weeks focusing on areas of administration, succession planning, integrity/probity and public relations/communications. Not much has since been heard about the output of this consultancy. Capita Symonds had had an earlier input here in the mid-1990s when it had stressed the need for intelligence-led policing. Critics have said that is still a major problem in the police force.
The IDB project profile on its website addressed the previous citizen security project and the results from it. It said that from 2007 to June 2014, the government implemented the Citizen Security Programme which aimed at among other things strengthening the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Guyana Police Force.
“At project closure, self-reported victimization rates declined from 21.3% (2006) to 16.5% (2013) and outcomes on residents’ anger management improved in Regions IV and VI. The proportion of deaths with undetermined cause, a police performance outcome, dropped from 35% to 21.9%. Additionally, CSP installed institutional capacity: a basic Crime Observatory, the Safe Neighbourhood Survey (SNS), and two community centers”, the profile said.
The profile added that one of the contributing causes to crime and violence (C&V) is the social acceptance of using violence to settle inter-personal and community disputes. It said that in the 2013 SNS, 11% of respondents stated that they threatened to seriously harm someone and 7% had assaulted someone who was not a family member.
“This context has framed a gradual diminishment of participation in community and civic life, as indicated by the drop in respondents agreeing that neighbors are willing to help each other out (72% in 2006 to 64% in 2013)”, the profile said.
It added that this phenomenon is evident in schools and homes.
“A 2010 survey of Georgetown secondary school students found that 28% of students were in fights at school, 23% saw other students stabbed, and 59% had friends who were hurt/injured by other students. Violent relations in the home (e.g. intimate partner violence) are equally serious: 23% of registered deaths of women are due to aggression, suicide, and homicide”, the profile said.
The profile also referred to the confidence level in the police force.
“On an index of public perception of institutional efficiency of security agencies, the GPF has the lowest rating: 44.2 on a scale of 100. The effectiveness and productivity of police officers is limited by their lack of specialized training and by lack of optimal deployment of officers to tasks that match their skillsets. The effectiveness of policing in its two basic functions – preventing crimes before they happen and resolving crimes that do happen – is impeded by two factors: (i) lack of police training to engage with the population and obtain its cooperation and (ii) insufficient training and specialized equipment for (a) crime data gathering, analysis, and processing (including forensics) and (b) criminal investigation, once a crime is committed”, the project profile asserted.
All of these shortcomings cited in the profile would raise questions about the effectiveness of the approaches by successive PPP/C governments.
As a result of the weaknesses, the profile says half of the project amount, US$7.5M will be channeled towards crime prevention and investigation capacity of the force.
“This component will seek to improve the effectiveness of the police in two dimensions: (i) preventing crime at the community level and (ii) investigating crime at the national level. Activities at the community level include: (a) development of an academic program and protocols for community policing; (b) training of police personnel in community policing, intimate partner violence and VAW (violence against women) prevention, and model approaches for diverse communities; and (c) community decision-making processes for police issues to improve police community relations. Activities at the national level include: (d) training in criminal and forensic investigation techniques; (e) expansion of the existing equipment for the GPF forensic laboratory; (f) capacity-building on forensic nursing; (g) development of guidelines and protocols for forensic evidence collection and maintenance; and (h) upgrade of police reception areas to be more community friendly. Support for change management will be provided for both community and national level initiatives”, the profile stated.