The Ministry of Public Security on Friday met with residents of La Parfaite Harmonie, West Demerara where concerns were raised about security and adults preying on school girls.
Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan, Deputy Regional Executive Officer Jennifer Ferreira-Dougall, D Div1sion Commander Leslie James and other government officials were present at the engagement, which was stated to be the first in a series of such interactions planned by the Ministry to address security concerns across the country. The meeting was held at the La Parfaite Harmonie Primary School, a statement from the Department of Public Information (DPI) said.
The issue of “older men preying on school girls” was not covered extensively in the press release sent out, but James stated that ranks have been tasked to embark on an “intel-led operation” to tackle the issue, which is on the “front burner” for the police.
The Commander was quoted as saying that “three such persons” were brought before him and were given a stern warning because they “were not engaged in the act” when they were intercepted.
“We recorded it and they were warned sternly. Their excuses were that they were just relaxing, which of course was just an excuse,” James said, according to DPI.
James’ comment raised questions by persons on social media about the value of the efforts made by the police, but when James was contacted last evening to address those concerns, he told Stabroek News that adequate action was taken into the matter, but the investigations were inconclusive, and hence the matter was not pursued further.
He acknowledged that he had just mentioned the matter in passing when the issue was raised during the meeting, hence the lack of context.
“It wasn’t an accusation…someone called to say that somebody was down at a secluded spot. When the ranks went there they saw a motorbus and I think it was a minibus
driver, a conductor and I think four school-aged persons. And the parents were called and so on and the matter was dealt with,” he related.
“…adequate action was taken. Everybody was contacted. The children’s parents, the child welfare section, and everything, and the children were medically examined also,” James said.
The release said that the commander informed the residents present that he has an “open-door” policy, and encouraged them to visit his office if issues arise.
Other issues raised at the meeting included the need for a police station within the community and improper garbage disposal.
DPI said that Ramjattan told the residents that it was too late in the year for a police station to be included in the 2018 budget, but recommended that a community policing group be established in the interim.
As far as the garbage situation goes, the minister related that he would look into establishing a Community Organised for the Restoration of the Environment (CORE) group at Parfaite. It was stated that CORE’s role is empowering and bettering communities through the formation of community groups aimed at beautifying the environment.
The recommendation was given after community members would have complained about residents refusing to pay for the pickup of refuse, and dumping the garbage around the community instead.
“We are not setting the examples and that is not how we take back our communities…We have to ensure that these people know that there is a disincentive for dumping garbage because they will be prosecuted…” Minister Ramjattan said, as he advised residents to report instances such as those, and asked the culprits to desist from the behaviour.
The release also mentioned that a campaign to address speeding, noise pollution and the use of vehicle tints has been launched. Since its commencement, ten persons were taken into custody and will be taken before the court.
Speaking after the meeting was resident Wilbert Vyphuis, who said that the availability of resources was a prime factor in confronting problems within the community.
“We have to understand that it all comes down to resources. What you have and how you can best make use of it. So I am satisfied with what he said and I can only hope that the promises that were made, that those promises will be kept,” he said.