Dear Editor,

REFERENCE is made to your editorial, ‘Crime Wave in perspective’, appearing in the Guyana Chronicle edition of 12/14.Given the current debate about the nature of the crime situation in Guyana, the editorial offered some interesting perspectives about genesis and causation.

According to the editorial, two central features/drivers contribute to the current crime situation in Guyana. Firstly, socio-economic, or what are known as macro factors, are responsible for the existing levels and frequency of crime in the society. Secondly, the role played by endemic corruption in fostering criminal wrongdoing in the society.

Some reference was also made to glorification of criminal actors and its resultant effect on overall criminal activities.

The above referred factors are by no means unique to Guyana; and, by and large, reflect the modern-day challenges confronting security and criminal justice officials around the world. It is due to the referred and other challenges that policy makers design and execute new paradigm shifts in policing policies in some societies.

However, when one examines the Guyana context and reality, there are some instructive features that are worthy of careful scrutiny.

Taken together or in isolation, corruption and socio-economic factors, if not addressed, contribute to spiralling crime rates and deviancy. So, even if one were to address those factors in order to bring about change, there are some prevailing deficiencies that equally contribute to the crime condition.

The operational posture and performance of the Police Force is critical to any successful crime strategy in any society. Interestingly, that is located within the framework of how the Police Force sees its mission. If its mission is centred on an operational strategy and posture of crime control, that very mission is restricted and narrow.

The crime control approach is centred on reacting and suppressing crime. The goal is to go after bad actors and/or deal with criminal activity as it occurs. Yes, there can be some success, but such an approach does not deal holistically with causation.

Additionally, if a police force is not properly trained and equipped, it is likely that that will impact on the nature of operational success. Here, training is not limited to use of equipment and technology. New policing strategies and methods of crime prevention are necessary tools within a comprehensive approach to crime.

Finally, if a society is to successfully address its crime problems, it is necessary that the administration of justice stands as a certain and predictable dispenser of justice. Where ambiguity and uncertainty exist, prospective and motivated criminal offenders are likely to engage in their pursuits, mindful that punishment and justice are not often certain outcomes. Where criminal prosecution does not follow the norm, and is retarded by an inefficient and corrupt judicial process, criminal deviancy will flourish. So if we are expecting significant levels of success in confronting crime, it is necessary that a more comprehensive approach is implemented.

Thus far, we seem content on taking small, symbolic steps. Such an approach is limited in nature, and will naturally yield only some measure of short-term success, if any at all.

Leroy Nelson