Working groups proposed to lead police reform
-UK-funded sector reform plan
After identifying poor forward planning and inadequate resources as major shortfalls in the Guyana Police Force, the UK-funded Security Sector Reform plan has proposed the creation of seven working groups to deal with specific aspects of much-needed reform.
It is envisaged that these working groups will collaborate closely with the force’s Strategic Planning Unit (SPU) to identify, construct and initiate action plans, while a Department for Security Sector Reform will be responsible for the implementation of all reform activities, the plan, which Sunday was seen by the Stabroek,
states. The plan was handed over to President David Granger in January by British security advisor Lt Col (rtd) Russell Combe but has not yet been made public. Granger had told this newspaper that a copy of the plan would be sent to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, following which it would be laid in the National Assembly.
“During the month of October, after the recess, it will be made available to the National Assembly,” Granger said a month ago. The National Assembly comes out of recess on Thursday. Once tabled, the document becomes public.
The plan makes recommendations for government action in key areas.
The establishment of the Department for Security Sector Reform, which was announced in Parliament in November last year, was the first to be mentioned. According to the document, this Department should be responsible for the implementation of all security sector reform activities, taking account of all ongoing programmes and events. It was stressed that the Department must ensure there is cooperation between all government ministries and agencies.
According to the plan, the SPU, which is “slowly” building up its staff and has adequate office space at police headquarters, is “considered the right place within the police to act as a hub for managing the reform process as a strategic requirement of ‘change management.’” It notes that focused training has been conducted by consultants, who were the appropriate “subject matter experts,” as the first step to addressing the shortfall that exists at SPU.
The document further explains that the use of these consultants for areas of focused attention is the complementary support to which the international community would contribute. “This provides the necessary external support to the Guyana Police, whilst recognising that one of the principles of the reform project is that it is owned and delivered by the institutions of Guyana,” it states.
It was explained that the SPU will act as the secretariat for the seven working groups of selected police officers and other government public servants or officials with relevant experience. “They would consider the reform necessary, by the use of working groups, and with international and national consultancy support where appropriate,” the plan notes.
Further, these groups, which would be chaired by a senior officer, are to act as the ‘delivery team’ for reform.
The plan says that adoption of the ‘working groups-model’ by the force will be the beginning of the reform process.
One group would be tasked with identifying the requirements for establishing a cross government coordination committee to synchronise the various “strands” of reform work being undertaken.
A second group would focus on the organisation and deployment of ranks throughout the country, inclusive of maintenance of the Police Estate and the number of police divisions, stations and outposts necessary, while the third group will look at pay, allowances, rank structure, the appraisal system and promotion policy in keeping with the recommendations of the Public Service Commission of Inquiry (CoI).
Group four’s mandate is to review the procurement and maintenance of police equipment, including vehicles and uniforms.
The fifth group, the plan says, will focus on the review of the police command and control system,
including the communications network, the role of force control and police divisional operations rooms, and the need for standard operating procedures for daily routine and during a crisis.
The sixth group, the plan explains, will examine the plan of the Maritime Review conducted in November, 2017 to determine the doctrine and policy for the employment of a maritime capability for the force, based on the operational requirements needed to meet the likely threats and to recommend the capability-based equipment requirements and deployment locations necessary across the country.
The seventh group, the plan proposes, would review the force’s budget and financial policies.
The plan also recommends a review of the Police Estate, the number of stations and outposts, as part of the review of police divisional boundaries, taking account of regional boundaries and the population and to include the role and responsibilities of the Georgetown City Constabulary and other town constabularies.
An examination of the policies and methods for the procurement, allocation and maintenance of police vehicles and equipment, including radios and uniforms and those donated by China in 2017, is recommended.
Further, the plan recommends an examination of the current pay and allowances for police, taking into account the CoI into the Public Service and comparable jurisdictions within Caricom.
There is also a call for a review of the rank structure, promotion policy, appraisal system, discipline and personal development policies for police ranks. This, the plan says, should be complementary to the study done under Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP) and include the roles of the Police Service Commission and Police Complaints Authority.
The plan recommends review of the “command and control” by the police during a crisis, including the functions of Force Control, the decision making process by officers at each level of command and the need for a National Threat Level and Alert State System.
It also recommends the creation of a policy for financial strategic forward planning and the mechanism for the police to prepare a comprehensive annual budget, including more detailed direction and guidance, a more flexible approach to capital costs and in-year unforeseen costs, particularly for emergency repairs to infrastructure, provision of utilities and sanitation.
Days after receiving the plan in January, the President provided few details about the areas the proposed reforms focused on.
When he addressed the Annual Police Officers’ Conference later in the year, Granger had said the reforms would entail crime prevention through improved intelligence and proactive deployment, protection of victims and vulnerable groups from criminal behaviour or disorder, and the promotion of greater public confidence in officers through ethical conduct, and the promulgation of measures aimed at building the force’s capacity and capability.
Granger has maintained that there will be security sector reform and that the plan involves measures to promote greater probity in the work of the police and to ensure greater integrity among its officers.
Jagdeo has criticised government for failing to make the reform plan public, while noting that “buy-in” from everyone, including the opposition, is critical.
Combe who left Guyana after handing over the plan returned in April to continue advising the government on security sector reform on a contract which will end in March next year.
When approached in August, he would only say that the plan placed focus on areas of general improvement within the force. A number of initiatives had already been undertaken and he had stressed that the plan was being considered and was being “worked through” at the moment.
A previous attempt to get a UK-funded Security Sector Reform Programme off the ground was aborted under the former PPP/C administration following differences between the then government and London. After Granger took office, he reopened discussions on the issue with London.
Lt Col (rtd) Russell Combe (at left) handing over the plan to President David Granger in January