Accelerate implementation of security reforms – Granger to GPF
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President David Granger, on Thursday underscored the need for the Guyana Police Force to accelerate the implementation of security sector reforms, which he said, will among other things, restore public trust in the Force as well as correct any mismanagement of the country’s premiere law enforcement agency.
The Head of State was at the time delivering the feature address at the opening of the Force’s Annual Officers’ Conference at State House. This year’s conference is being held under the theme: ‘Security Sector Reform Implementation – Enhancing Capacity Through Training, Infrastructure and Human Resource Management.”
After months of ground work, British Security expert Russell Combe compiled and handed over a report to the Guyana Government in January 2018, detailing critical measures to be undertaken to strength the Police Force.
According to President Granger, these transformations under the Security Sector Reform Programme (SSRP) will provide a rounded enhancement of the Police Force to better serve citizens through improved crime-fighting and law enforcement capabilities.
“Security Sector Reforms is aimed at improving public trust and confidence, developing stronger organisation, boosting the Force’s intelligence, responsive and investigative capabilities and producing a more versatile Police Officer. Security sector reforms, therefore, must be accelerated to strengthen this vital institution in 2019,” he asserted.
The Head of State posited that that these reforms will also revise the Force’s institutional framework; something which is already evident with the installation of the new leadership which saw reintroduction of Deputy Commissioners.
Furthermore, he outlined that the reforms will allow the law enforcement body to address issues such as chronic-underfunding, the lack of adequate funding and low standards as identified the in SSR report.
“Reforms will reverse the Force’s record of low maintenance and the abuse of movable and immovable assets. It will pay greater attention to the selection and training of its Constables and Cadets to enhance the welfare of its Constables and sub-ordinate officers by improving the conditions under which some of them are obliged to live and work, particularly West of the Essequibo. And to ensure promotions are based on hard work, integrity and merit,” the President detailed.
Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Leslie James in brief remarks recognised that the implementation of these reforms is an important undertaking for the Force.
“We have engaged with our counterparts in the United Kingdom (UK) and to this end, three main pillars have already begun implementation, that is, training, human resources management and infrastructure,” the Top Cop posited.
The US$4.7 million Security Sector Reform Programme was initially launched in 2007 but was scrapped two years later after major disagreements between the then Administration and the UK Government over some of the conditions of the plan.
However during a meeting with former British Prime Minister David Cameron back in 2016, President Granger had requested that the multimillion-dollar security sector pact be revived.
As such, Colonel Combe was brought in to conduct an assessment on the state of the local security sector and come up with steps to be taken to improve services.
While the report focuses primarily on reforms within the Guyana Police Force, there are also measures included to address issues plaguing the prison and the fire services as well as the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF’s) Coast Guard.
Colonel Combe is expected to oversee the implementation of his recommendations until March 2019 when his tenure would come to an end. The UK expert had previously stated that his government does not want to see the report sitting on the shelf, gathering dust. In fact, he noted that the report was compiled in such a way that it can be broken up and separated into parts to be dealt with by different groupings.
Since the handing over of the report almost one year ago, it is yet to be released. However, President Granger on Thursday assured that the ‘dynamic’ report will be made public when it is laid in the National Assembly.
“It’s not a secret; if it was a secret we would have kept it to ourselves but we’ve sent a copy to the Leader of the Opposition and it is meant to be laid in the National Assembly. It is a public document [and] public security is a public responsibility,” the Head of State asserted.
The Police Officers’ Annual Conference, which will conclude on Saturday, will see presentations made on various aspects of law enforcement by security experts.