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Police Force instructed to craft “integrity and ethics plan” to measure performance

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 October 2021, 21:21 by Denis Chabrol

A section of the participants  at  the inaugural symposium on “Integrity In Policing”

Plagued by decades of corruption and other malpractices, the Guyana Police Force was Saturday ordered by government to come up with a a measurable plan to constantly improve its performance.

Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn made clear government’s expectation at the Guyana Police Force’s inaugural “Integrity In Policing” symposium.

“We need an ethics and integrity plan and that we note the benchmarks  against which the performance indicators which we put, how we measure up against them every year and what we have to do to get the positions we need to improve,” Mr. Benn said.

He recommended that 10-point plans be crafted at every level and measured to determine how well the Guyana Police Force has been doing as part of the development of a “culture of continuous improvement.” He said a system should be put in place to award merit badges for very good performance by police units, stations and individuals.

The Home Affairs Minister also recommended that the agencies work closely together and with the Community Policing Groups (CPGs) to take on board “actionable intelligence” in a timely manner and that they are all measured.

He said all layers of the police force must be involved from the bottom up but the work must be separated and viewed as professional rather than politics and other factors.

The Home Affairs Minister restated that all police stations must have the capacity to record audio-visually their interactions with the public, against the backdrop of concerns about suicides at police stations, beatings and insults as well as how domestic violence and abuse of children.

Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie said the requirement for joining the Guyana Police Force should no longer be a sound primary education, even as he hinted that that criterion should now be a sound secondary education.

Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn addressing the inaugural symposium on “Integrity In Policing”

He said a number of “frontline” policemen and women exhibit discourteous and unprofessional conduct including “excessive use of force” approaching the public in an impolite, unethical and disrespectful manner which cause dissatisfaction with police service.  “When effecting arrests, ranks at time would use indecent language and physically harass suspects or perpetrators for crimes and other breaches of the law even in situations that are sometimes aggravated by the citizens that police still ought to be calm and civil in those situations,” he said.

The Police Commissioner said a number of police still use indecent language and physically harass suspects or perpetrators of crimes and other breaches of the law, excessive use of force, “unlawful” withholding of drivers licences and other documents in “breach of standing instructions”, telling complainants that there are no vehicles or police, failure to take complaints about occurrences in other districts, accepting bribes or gifts for the provision of policing services, undesirable responses to reports of domestic violence, and treating complaints from male victims  as a joke.

Mr. Hoppie said there is limited accommodation for members of the policemen and women especially those who are away from the home-base. He recommended that the Standing Orders and Standard Operating Procedures should be revised and amended in keeping with best practice and international policing standards.

The Police Commissioner reasoned that if the public perceives the police as unprofessional, “they would be less inclined to cooperate and assist the police force in the conduct of its role and responsibility.”

Prime Minister Mark Phillips urged the police force to create a “no-nonsense” climate in the Police Force with a focus on integrity rather than a command climate in which officers are waiting to get into positions to engage in corruption.

Mr. Phillips who is a retired Brigadier and former Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, challenged the police force to not only be aware of the SOPs , possess integrity and be well-informed but also implement decisions.

The Prime Minister recommended that every member of the Guyana Police Force be provided with a booklet containing the values and standards of that civilian law enforcement agency.