Jagdeo knocks gov’t secrecy over UK expert’s police reform plan

Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday criticised government for its failure to make public the action plan for the reform of the security sector crafted by British expert Lt Col (rtd) Russell Combe.

“You can’t reform the police force in secrecy. You have to have buy-in from everyone, including the opposition. So this decision to regionalise the force, I heard them say that before the report, is it part of the report and why and how is it going to function? So, it’s like they have made a decision,” he told Stabroek News before questioning whether the recommendations in the report are being discussed at the level of the government.

Combe, who was on a one-year contract with the Guyana government, handed over the report to Granger on January 18th. Government has not indicated whether the contents of the report will be released to the public.

Jagdeo added that government had previously said that the report “would solve all crime problems in the future and what is effectively happening is a spike in crime in spite of what they are saying.”

When Stabroek News spoke with the Minister of State Joseph Harmon a month ago, he had said that the document was not yet with Cabinet and was still being reviewed by the president.

According to him, it is for the president to decide on a way forward.

Observers have stressed the need for the plan to be adopted so as to bring some order to the security sector, particularly in light of events occurring within the Guyana Police Force’s hierarchy, some of which was highlighted during the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the alleged assassination plot against the president.

Combe has publicly said that he did give some consideration to the revelations of a fractured hierarchy within the police force based on the evidence led during the inquiry.

Granger had previously said that the resuscitation of the plan was in keeping with government commitment to tackling the crime situation and taking corrective action.

“We passed through nearly 20 years of ‘woulda, coulda and shoulda,’ without any attempt to seriously deal with the security problem in this country and like a disease you can’t pretend to treat it, you can’t promise to treat it, you can’t talk about treating it, without actually getting down to the root cause…We are now trying to correct the errors of over two decades,” Granger had said at the handing over ceremony.

He had pointed out that the former PPP/C government failed miserably in its quest to deal with the then narcotics trafficking and security threats.

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