More security measures in place to combat criminal violence
-- Luncheon reports
There will now be 24-hour patrols and permanent security personnel in those villages affected by criminal elements from Buxton
By Chamanlall Naipaul

BARRIER: Sukhmangal Bassant
, 50, of Sand Reef, Annandale is seen blocking the entrance to his street yesterday with the limbs/branches of a large tamarind tree which he cut down from his yard. Gunmen from Buxton crossed over the dam (dirt road) separating Buxton and Annandale and robbed and terrorised Bassant and his family twice in one week - last Monday and Sunday.

 A gun

The gunmen beat him in the head with a gun, terrorised his 76-year-old mother, Ann Bassant, and beat his daughter, Dolly, kicking her twice in the stomach. They also tried to strip his wife in the latest attack.


The bandits robbed the poor family of their 14" television set, cash and jewellery. A very frustrated and fed up Bassant said he decided to chop down a tamarind tree which was in his yard and use the branches to form a blockage at the head of the street, opposite his house, which the bandits normally use to attack and terrorise him and his neighbours.

CABINET yesterday continued its assessment of the impact of the law enforcement agencies on the current crime situation, and acknowledged that the persistent concerns about raids and robberies raised by residents of communities neighbouring Buxton on the East Coast Demerara are being addressed.

Speaking at his weekly post-Cabinet briefing yesterday, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon said that additional security measures have been implemented in the neighbouring villages to deal with the heightened criminal activities being perpetrated by elements from Buxton.

He said ministers and officials of the Government have been visiting the affected communities to identify, in conjunction with residents, the most advantageous measures that should be implemented.

Consequently, the law enforcement agencies now have 24-hour patrols and permanently stationed security personnel in the villages neighbouring Buxton.

"The number of criminals and criminal activities has not reflected a diminution. They keep growing. Large amounts of weapons have been recovered regularly, but they continue coming. I must concede that this is a severe and unprecedented challenge." -- Dr. Luncheon

He noted that `Operation Saline Solution', which was last year launched by the Joint Services on the East Coast to prevent the uninhibited movement of criminals to and from Georgetown, and out of Georgetown, produced certain developments, which were not anticipated.

These developments included increased attacks on the neighbouring villages.

As a result, there have been modifications to the security operations to counter the attacks in the other villages.

"Originally, it sought to eliminate or markedly restrict the movement of criminals in and out of Buxton," Luncheon pointed out.

"`Operation Saline Solution 2', which saw a more formidable presence of security personnel along the corridors of East Coast Demerara, was intended to cut down the forays into communities.

"But it led to unanticipated outcomes. Among them were organised community responses to searches," he said.

Touching on the issue of the increasing number of security personnel being murdered by criminals, the top Government official said additional measures have been implemented to "improve security of operational members of the law enforcement agencies to and from their places of abode, so as to help improve the morale within the security forces".

He gave the assurance that external assistance in the crime fight is being sought in the areas of planning, reform activities and other discrete and specific activities, which have not been implemented as yet.

ON PATROL: members of the Army and the Police on patrol on the East Coast Public Road yesterday, in the vicinity of Lusignan/Annandale.
Luncheon, however, emphasised that because of the complexity of the present crime wave, there will be no easy solution.

This is because while the security forces have been countering the criminals, their numbers seem to be increasing continuously.

"The number of criminals and criminal activities has not reflected a diminution. They keep growing. Large amounts of weapons have been recovered regularly, but they continue coming.

"I must concede that this is a severe and unprecedented challenge," he stated.

In response to a question on how successful has been the crime fight in terms of numbers of captures and arrests made, he said: "So fundamental has been this challenge, trying to identify successes in terms of numbers, is perhaps too simplistic an outlook."

In response to the suggestion of the possible imposition of a curfew in the troubled villages, Luncheon said that Cabinet has reservations, based on past experiences, in relation to its implementation and enforcement.

He added that Cabinet's emphasis is on "highly mobile patrols".

Asked about the location of the electronic surveillance equipment that was alleged to have entered the country illegally, he said: "I have been advised that it is being used by the Police in crime fighting."

He did not elaborate.

Luncheon also announced that the report of the Steering Committee on the public consultations on crime, which were conducted during the fourth quarter of last year in most of the administrative Regions, will be presented to the Office of the President tomorrow.

The Chairman of the Committee, Bishop Juan Edghill, is expected to make the presentation of the report.

He noted that the consultations provided an opportunity for members of various communities to make their contributions particularly in the handling of the crime wave and the roles of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF).

Wednesday, January 22, 2003