Smartphones, news reports create ‘cognition’ that crime is on the increase – Ramjattan

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Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan on Thursday boasted of a decrease in serious crimes under his administration and said any perception of an increase is due to the increased access to smartphones and the negative front pages of daily newspapers.

“…because today literally everyone has become a journalist via the smartphone, so an incident happen [and] immediately it is released, and the cognition in the minds of Guyanese is that this thing is going on…Smartphones show it in real-time and put it in the minds of people…,” the Minister told the media in response to questions at the APNU+AFC Campaign office at Lamaha Street, Georgetown.

He further explained that “a prior time, you didn’t have the smartphones, nobody brings it up almost instantaneously and so the thing was not in the cognition of the minds of journalists or members of the public but the truth is that it (crime) is going down.”

However, a little further down in the press conference, the Minister said recordings from private persons’ phones have been helping in the fight against crime and catching the perpetrators.

Minister Ramjattan also blamed the local newspapers for printing crime stories across their front pages on a daily basis saying this portrays the idea that crime is on the increase.

“When it is splashed across the front the pages of newspapers…it builds up…that cognition that only crime is happening in the country,” the Security Minister said.

Serious crimes are inclusive of murders and robberies, rape, larceny from the person, burglary, kidnapping, piracy and break and enter.

The Police have not released its monthly crime statistics for January or so far for February. Just Thursday morning, 34-year-old Otredis Duarte Gonzales, a Cuban national, was shot dead on Cummings Street between Middle and Quamina streets, Georgetown.

The Minister said the Police are addressing robberies by targeting the hotspots around the city.

He also noted that more persons are reporting criminal activities and the Police have seen an increase in prosecutions.

Minister Ramjattan said there has been a 37 per cent clear-up rate for robbery under arms, 47 per cent for robberies with violence, 77 per cent for murder, 53 per cent for rape and 21 per cent for larceny.

Clear up means the suspects have been identified and charged. Convictions are dependent on the judiciary.

The Public Security Minister is contesting the upcoming elections as his party’s Prime Ministerial Candidate.

Asked whether his party –the Alliance For Change will be retaining the sector if the coalition is re-elected, he dodged the question.

Ramjattan said: “The portfolios of the Ministries will be determined by the President and myself in consultation after the March 2nd victory.”

He said the AFC will get five Ministries under the new Cummingsburg accord signed with its partner, the APNU. The PM Candidate had previously confirmed that his party will be getting less parliamentary seats.

The first Cummingsburg Accord that governed the formation of the APNU+AFC coalition was signed on February 14, 2015, and originally saw the AFC having 12 Parliamentary seats and a 60/40 proportion for ministerial posts.

The revised agreement now gives the APNU and AFC a 70/30 proportion for ministerial posts.

The AFC currently governs the Ministries of Public Security, Public Infrastructure, Public Telecommunications, Agriculture, Business and Natural Resources.

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