Legislation for new crime-fighting team in the works – Minister Benn

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By Vishani Ragobeer

Legislation for the regional joint support team, a new crime-fighting initiative, is in the works and should be finalised soon, according to Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn.

The minister told this to the News Room at the sidelines of an event on Thursday. This new crime-fighting initiative was recently revealed in the National Assembly by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, who had revealed that the unit was crafted to aid the crime-fighting capacity of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and would comprise members of the GPF and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).

On Thursday, however, while addressing a handing over ceremony at the Cove and John Police station, President Dr. Irfaan Ali highlighted that specialised regional crime-fighting outfits will be essential in keeping citizens safe and protecting the nation as the threat of a changing nature of crime emerges.

These outfits, the President said, would encompass a variety of skills merged into one unit that will enable “quick” and “multidimensional” responses to crime-fighting.

Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn [News Room photo/ November 23, 2020]
When approached by the News Room after that event, Minister Benn said that the “specialised regional outfits” the President spoke of is the same as the “regional joint support teams” mentioned in the National Assembly by Minister Teixeira.

And, he explained, “They’re intended to provide support to the forces when they are out on operations and to prepare grounds for them when they are out in the field.”

Further, Minister Benn said that when members of the armed forces have to go into the interior regions, all personnel from Georgetown or the coast cannot be taken. As such, he reasoned that “support groups” should be in those communities to support the work of the armed forces.

He, however, could not state who would be selected to head this team.

When asked if there was a timeline for the establishment of this regional joint support team, the Home Affairs Minister answered: “We are discussing it, we are finalising it, the legislation is being worked on finally and you will be informed.”

He could not state whether there was a timeline on the development of the legislation that would give effect to this regional support team.

In the recent sitting of the National Assembly, Minister Teixeira, however, requested a supplementary provision for the period ending December 2021 requested to allow for the “set up” of this regional joint support initiative.

She explained then that the body will not denigrate or usurp the functions of the GPF nor the GDF, instead, she emphasised that it is expected to enhance the capacity of the law enforcement agencies in Guyana to fight crime, regardless of the type of crime, with the support of the GDF.

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