I read with great pleasure the training of members of the Guyana Police Force Strategic Management Unit (SMU) which was recently conducted by the British Government. According to the media this training is directly linked to the interim recommendations that Russell Combe, the Security Sector Reform Advisor to the President, has recently produced. It is part of a series of planned training activities which the British are looking to conduct over the next few months. At the opening ceremony Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, British High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn and Acting Commissioner of Police David Ramnarine made presentations.
The training of the members of the SMU is a fit and proper thing to do as those who were selected to do the task must be given the appropriate training to perform at the highest level.
The last Strategic Management Department which was disbanded by Commissioner Seelall Persaud failed for diverse reasons including the fact that the police did not pay enough attention to the strategic management risks identified by Capita Symonds.
I am not au fait with the finer points of the current Strategic Management Plan. However, it cannot be vastly different from the one submitted by Simon Reeves, Director of Capita Symonds to Khemraj Rai, Programme Coordinator, Citizen Security Programme during February 2011. In fact, media reports quoted the British High Commissioner as positing that there is nothing that Russell Combe has found which has not been seen in many of the other reports that have been done before. Capita Symonds advised the setting up of a Strategic Risk Management Plan to identify mitigating measures and monitor each risk’s ongoing relevance as well as identifying emerging risks. This was ignored.
Some of the risks identified were:
Alleged and perceived corruption within the GPF will adversely affect public trust and confidence in the police;
Staff in the GPF may be resistant to the change so that the activities outlined in the Plan may not be achieved or will have to be delayed;
New and emerging crimes will divert resources to tackle other activities not set out in the Plan;
A decrease in the economy of Guyana may increase the demands of the GPF and at the same time mean that increasing the number of officers up the establishment may not be achievable;
An increase in the economy of Guyana may increase the demands of the GPF which cannot be managed with existing resources;
The skills and abilities of staff of the GPF will be insufficient to implement, or will delay, delivery of the Strategic Plan;
Insufficient human resources will be made available to the GPF to implement the Strategic Plan;
There may be implications for the nature and type of criminality in Guyana as a result of an increase of the population and/or an influx of non-Guyanese nationals;
There will be an increase in legislation that brings about demands in the GPF;
The MOHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) does not have a Strategic Plan which gives overall directions to the GPF;
There will be a lack of suitable equipment for officers of the GPF to meet new and emerging challenges (increase marine/air capacity, improved vehicles, etc);
Managers of the GPF will not be equipped to deal with new and emerging challenges arising from Modernisation.
These risks were relevant in 2011. They are even more apposite today and in the future. They were not cast in Mazaruni Granite. Difficult as they appear, they are surmountable. They must not be dashed under the no-action red carpet if the current Strategic Management Plan is to be successful.
The challenges faced by the GPF are many. They defy any one-shot solution. However, strategic management and strategic thinking are effective tools used by law enforcement officers to reduce crime and the fear of crime. As the police play their strategic innings they must be cognisant of some nagging and short of a good length deliveries identified as strategic risks alluded to above which they will encounter in their activities to score some strategic runs. The movers and shakers of the plan must ensure that information and understanding of the plan are communicated down to all levels including the recruits and the various stakeholders. The Plan must not be seen as a Top Secret document to be locked away in a safe for the information of a very few. All must have a clear understanding and appreciation of where the police are, where they want to go and the methodology in place for them to achieve the various projected milestones. Organisational and personnel changes will emerge. Therefore, much emphasis must not only be placed on the agents of change but the victims of change. The latter should be equipped with the necessary coping skills to deal with the changes.
Despite the many challenges, the Strategic Management Unit if effectively managed will be successful. I am confident that with the input of Russell Combe, Paul Mathias who has an excellent understanding of the operations of the GPF and other police forces across the Caribbean, Andy Odell, Senior Superintendent Andries Junior and the other facilitators, the police will be able to deliver a higher quality of service to the government and the citizens of Guyana who they swore to serve and protect.
Assistant Commissioner of Police