Suspension of Chief Constable, lead investigator recommended over lapses in sex abuse probe

Andrew Foo

The Legal Affairs and Security Committee of the Mayor and City Council has recommended a two-week suspension for the Chief Constable and the lead investigator in the probe of the alleged sexual assault of a teen by a member of the constabulary.

The committee’s report was brought before the council yesterday, two months after it was requested by Mayor Patricia Chase-Green.

While recommendations were made for sanctions against officers, the report also pointed out that disciplinary actions against local government officers of the council, which includes every member of the city constabulary, are governed by the Municipal and District Councils Act.

Furthermore, it was stated that the power to discipline any of those officers or remove them from any position, falls under the Local Government Commission, as long as their benefits exceed $18,000 annually. (The report recommended that this section of the Act be amended so that some workers are dealt with by the Commission and others at the level of the Council.)

As a result, when asked about the implementation of the recommendations, Town Clerk Royston King stated that there were currently moves to reorganise the internal operations at the constabulary, and that the matter will be taken to the Legal Affairs and Security Committee.

While the report suggests that the council await the outcome of the investigations by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) in relation to the alleged sexual assault, specific recommendations were made regarding disciplinary actions that should be meted out to officers of the council, based on their conduct during the investigations.

It was recommended that Chief Constable Andrew Foo, and ASP Virjanand Gafur, who was responsible for investigating the matter, be suspended for fourteen days.

The grounds for Foo’s suspension was reportedly because of “several alarming shortcomings” which included not reporting the matter to the GPF, the Child Care and Protection Agency and the Ministry of Social Protection; failing to maintain the protective custody of the victim, whom he knew to be a juvenile, when he sent him to the Town Clerk’s office; and failing to take immediate and decisive action in accordance with the standard operating procedures.

Gafur, who was the senior officer responsible for the investigation, failed to provide proper supervision, and as a result, six statements were omitted from persons who were on duty during the time the alleged sexual assault took place.

Also playing a hand in the investigations was Officer Eusi Dover, who it was recommended receive training in the field, as there were “huge gaps” in the information that was presented to the committee. It was recommended that this training also be provided to other officers where needed.

King, it was recommended, should be strongly cautioned for neglecting to have the matter reported to the GPF and for exercising poor judgment by accepting an invitation by the Chief Constable to have the juvenile visit his office. It was reported that the juvenile was interrogated in King’s office, in the presence of other council officers.

Councilor Bishram Kuppen, during yesterday’s proceedings, noted that he had felt that the Mayor too was culpable in the matter to some extent as she knows the law and should have directed the matter to the police right away. He stated that other council members had not agreed with his position and so it was not included in the report.

Also included in the recommendations was for the Child Care and Protection Agency and Child Link to be consulted to provide education and awareness training on child abuse and sexual offences to M&CC’s administration; that the council engages the GPF to train its staff on how to handle sexual offence and child abuse reports; that the council develops a guideline on how to deal with the report of sexual offences and child abuse; that CCTV cameras be placed within the constabulary; that the standards of supervision at all levels of the council be improved and that the standard operating procedures be strictly adhered to.

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