Combating crime requires major reforms between police, a cooperative public and the correctional system – Stabroek News

Dear Editor,

Crime permeates our society. We are bombarded daily with a series of blue collar and white collar crimes. However, we seldom hear of those in the white collar bracket being confined to prison. Their crimes are often premeditated, thus more heinous than those committed by people jailed for crimes other than murder, rape, violent crime and battery. There are also victimless crimes such as prostitution, pornographic dissemination, illegal drug use, and mandatory seatbelt and motorcycle helmet laws. These crimes should be regulated or taxed. Property crimes and violent crimes are the rule of the day. This development is depressing and makes one sad to see that we have been seeing a decline in crime prevention and reduction with the passing years. Creative and tested deterrents to crime should be utilized. Community policing, video surveillance established by the State, longer sentences, rapid responses to calls from citizens requiring police presence (probably all calls) and drug treatment are some of the primary methods which should be employed. The police need to have a cooperative relationship with the populace as this will help us all to combat crime. Citizens need to be provided with data which reveals the number of criminals apprehended. The donations of large quantities of vehicles to the police force by foreign governments has not improved the polices responses. Most of the time when citizens call the police stations they are told that there isnt a vehicle available.

The government, Mayor and local government need to play a pivotal role in their expenditure, public presentations and advocacy for legislation to address and reduce crime. Citizens need to make demands on their officials, legislators, judges and the police to conform to public opinion on crimes. Judges are important and should be given more autonomy and the assistance of legislation to set more severe sentences. Prosecutors obviously lack the skills or resources to convict offenders. It appears that the majority of people charged with serious crimes are released due to lack of evidence. A survey or statistic would confirm or reject that. It is appalling that such cases presented for prosecution are approved for trial. There are three main goals of the correctional system: punish, rehabilitate and separate criminals from the general population. Offenders see incarceration as punishment and their confinement removes these undesirable characters from society. Hence, two of the goals are fulfilled but rehabilitation poses a bigger challenge. The condition of our prisons and the treatment of the inmates imperil any chances of rehabilitation. Undoubtedly, within those walls, prisoners are developing more violent, incorrigible behaviour.

In the absence of capital punishment and early release programmes, more prisons will have to be built, which is a dire and overdue necessity. Many people feel that imprisonment provides a breeding ground for creating hardened criminals and an increase in crimes. It is surprising that the overcrowding of our prisons has not led to lawsuits. Maybe it is the result of prisoners having no representation and it is of little or no financial gain to lawyers to work on their behalf. Why is the Human Rights Committee not intervening? To cope with overcrowding at prisons there are methods which could be employed. These are job-related skills training, placement services and drug and alcohol counselling. Electronic monitors could also be used to maintain a form of house arrest. An example of a waste of police resources can be seen at Regent and Cummings Streets where a group of police using bicycles assemble, jovially conversing and mainly idling but occasionally swooping down harshly on motorists. There are many more accident and crime prone junctions and areas around the town and beyond where traffic police and other police could be deployed.

In Guyana we need to start with more selective recruitment of police based on both background and academic qualifications. These will merit at least a living wage for a family of four. These methods will help to eliminate the brusque and boorish behaviour of some police. Imme-diate and rigorous training courses should be a part of recruitment and subject to oversight by responsible and respected members of the public. Last but not the least, we need an active and rapid response from the police when citizens call for help. This would include a functional and effective 911 telephone number facility in order to obtain a rapid police response.


Conrad Barrow

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Combating crime requires major reforms between police, a cooperative public and the correctional system - Stabroek News

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