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Friday, April 21, 2006

by Gordon French
Caribbean Net News Guyana Correspondent

GEORGETOWN, Guyana: With the help of the Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP), Guyana is currently exploring the establishment of a Crime Stoppers programme as the country seeks new ways to stem the surge in gun and drug related crimes.

Coordinator of the Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers Inc. and member of the RCMP, Sergeant Doug Dersch met with media representatives and members of the National Commission on Law and Order Thursday.

Sgt. Dersch described the programme as very successful and will be good for Guyana. "The success of the programme depends on the effective use of the three main components, which are the community, police and the media. Each component plays the role of a partner," he said.

Describing how the programme is built on 100% anonymity, the RCMP official said, "The programme allows one to call a 1-800 toll free number to give information on criminal activity. You will never be required to provide your name, or to testify in court. A secret code number will be given to you at the time you report the crime, which would be the basis by which you identify yourself."

Participants at the meeting raised concerns about the vulnerability of the telephone lines here especially since the discovery of a taped telephone conversation between a senior police official and an executive member of the Main Opposition Party, the People's National Congress/Reform.

However, Home Affairs Minister Gail Teixeira said wire-tapping was not a nationwide problem.

"If we continue to allow fear to deter us from speaking out against crime, we will never be rid of this scourge. The time must come when as Guyanese we are willing to take a stand and make our country more secure," the Home Affairs Minister said.

The Crime Stoppers programme started in 1976 following the brutal murder of a pump attendant in New Mexico. Following this incident, a re-enactment of the crime scene was televised and based on information received, an arrest was made in 24 hours.

Crime Stoppers programmes have been established in twenty-six countries, which include Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago.