Concerned citizens in Georgetown are calling on the Guyana Police Force and the Education Ministry to work together to clamp down on secondary school students who usually loiters around the city and those who engage in drug use.
These issues were among the many raised by stakeholders on Tuesday afternoon
when the newly installed ‘A’ Division Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Marlon Chapman, held a public meeting at the Brickdam Police Station.
During the engagement, Pastor Timothy Norton urged the Divisional Head to be proactive in curbing the use of marijuana around the Stabroek Market area, noting that school students are now indulging in the illegal act.
“(One) thing is the use of marijuana right around the bus parks. Up to today (Tuesday) I passed there on the pavement just next to the Route 48 bus park and they killing me with the marijuana smell. The other thing is that a lot of school children after hours are indulging in smoking marijuana right around the same area
there,” he stated.
On this note, Norton called on the commander to dispatch some plain clothes ranks to go out there and police the area so that those found culpable of encouraging youngsters to partake in using the illicit drug can be taken to court.
Meanwhile, Clifton Elias, a former head teacher, raised concerns about students who are out loitering during school hours and late in the evening.
“I am appalled at the growing number of children, particularly those in the secondary school, who long after 09:30h on school days are loitering around the market places and elsewhere; instead of being in school where they could qualify themselves for useful service to our nation,” Elias noted.
To this end, the former head teacher enquired about the nexus between the Police Force and the Education Ministry for looking into these issues, whereby secondary school students are engaging in illegal activities.
In response, Commander Chapman acknowledged the concerns raised and committed to working with the Education Ministry to have these issues addressed.
“Children should be in school when they ought to be. I know for a fact that my deputy (Divisional Traffic Head) is usually out on the park in the mornings and afternoons chasing them (students) off but he’s only,” the Commander noted.
He continued that “we cannot take away the fact that the school welfare department has a function and I can’t speak of that but I know of times when they would make a request for assistance from us, and readily those assistances are granted. I have to say I received no such requests when I came to ‘A’ Division but in ‘C’ Division, it used to be a regular feature.”
Chapman posited, nevertheless, that while he is also concerned about the youths not staying in school, the onus lies on all citizens to ensure that they do not condone or turn a blind eye to school children engaging in illegal activities.
Moreover, the Divisional Commander outlined that with regards to marijuana smoking on the various bus parks, steps were previously taken to address the matter but the results were not as fruitful as desired.
He also promised changes under his tenure, while adding that he has an open door policy. On this note, the Commander invited the members of the public to make contact with him whenever they witness any wrong doing within the Division whether by another civilian or an officer of the Police Force.
In 2015, the report of the Secondary School Drug Prevalence Survey 2013 Project was launched, revealing that marijuana along with alcohol, cigarettes and inhalants is the most commonly used drugs among the student population in Guyana.
The survey was done by the Organisation of American States (OAS) Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) in collaboration with the Government of Guyana in 2013 with some 1,712 valid questionnaires obtained. Of these, 1,266 were from public schools and 446 were from private schools.
Among the key findings was the fact that marijuana remains the most accessible illegal drug while cocaine the least accessible. Some 16.3 per cent of the students indicated that it would be easy to access marijuana.