The crime situation is the most pressing and most depressing problem facing ordinary Guyanese today. The People’s National Congress Reform is aware that, of all the crimes, the most fearful is armed robbery. The fact is that there are two armed robberies every single day somewhere in this country. Every week, two or three persons are killed, frequently with handguns.

Armed robberies affect every sector of society. Private citizens including remigrants have been attacked. Homes, restaurants, gas stations, market stalls and supermarkets have been attacked. Fishermen and miners have been attacked.

Why is the PPP/C Administration allowing so many armed robberies to occur? What will a PNCR Administration do to reduce them and make your lives safer?

Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Clement Rohee told the Guyana Police Force Annual Officers’ Conference last month that Guyana had a murder rate of 18.5 per 100,000 of the population in 2010. This is worse than the USA murder rate. Mr. Rohee admitted that gun crimes and gun-running have posed a challenge to this country.

Commissioner of Police Henry Greene admitted that “most robberies are committed with guns” and that the availability of illegal guns was a major challenge for the Force. He said that there had also been an increase in the rental of illegal guns, most of which were used by bandits.

Head of the Police Criminal Investigation Department, Mr. Seelall Persaud reported that there were over 500 armed robberies in 2009 and over 600 in 2010. Heaven knows what will happen in 2011! Mr. Persaud has presented a careful analysis:

- He knows that about 60 per cent of armed robberies are committed with pistols and revolvers.

- He knows that 70 per cent of armed robberies are committed with weapons that originate in Brazil and the USA. He knows that Brazil, with which Guyana has a nearly 1,200 km border, is one of the major sources of illegal guns. That country is home to Taurus International Manufacturing Inc – the parent company of one of the largest firearm manufacturing companies in the world.

- He knows that roughly 50 per cent of armed robberies are committed on the street; 25 per cent in the home and 25 per cent at business places.

- He knows that 50 per cent of armed robberies are committed in what the Police call ‘A’ Division – mainly Georgetown East Bank and part of the East Coast Demerara – and ‘E&F’ Division– embracing the huge hinterland or 70 per cent of our national territory.

What the PPP/C Administration doesn’t seem to know is what to do about preventing the influx of illegal firearms. It is public knowledge that the Police Force is under strength. Its weakest division – E&F divisions – is both a major source of gun-running and the scene of many armed robberies. Yet the PPP/C Administration has done nothing to deal with the Force’s human resource deficiency and to reorganise the command and management of the hinterland.

The PPP/C Administration is aware of the gun problem yet it is following the wrong strategy to deal with the problem. Instead of stopping the entry of guns into the country, it waits until the guns get into the hands of bandits and crimes are committed. By then it is too late.

The PPP/C Administration is busy establishing Community Policing Groups, Neighbourhood Policing Programmes and Citizen Security Programmes, yet it must be aware that these agencies cannot solve the armed robbery problem.

The PPP/C Administration must wake up to the realisation that two armed robberies every day are unacceptable. This nation needs a PNCR Administration. We understand our responsibility to ensure public security and human safety. We are aware that Brazilian-manufactured small arms have been flowing into the country, so we shall ensure that the military presence on the borders is strengthened. We shall ensure that the Police Force will receive the resources to prevent gun running. We shall ensure that ordinary citizens do not continue to suffer because of poor public security. We shall ensure that Guyanese can live in safety.

People’s National Congress Reform

Congress Place, Sophia

Georgetown, Guyana

Friday 8th April 2011