Private security firms and services in Guyana must be compliant with the established rules and guidelines and will not be allowed to operate in any ad hoc or unprofessional manner as there will be consequences.
This was the unified message delivered in separate remarks by Home Affairs Minister Hon. Robeson Benn and Acting Commissioner of Police Mr. Clifton Hicken during a very candid and interactive three-hour-long meeting this morning with heads and representatives of private security firms.
Of recent there has been a dramatic increase in the demand for private services to bolster Guyana’s security architecture, and this need is expected to be even greater in the context of the myriad security challenges that can arise as a consequence of the expected rapid expansion and infrastructural development of our oil and gas economy.
The meeting this morning, which was held at the Police Officers’ Training Centre in Georgetown, was facilitated to identify issues and concerns and offer suggestions related to security, especially now when the Guyana Police Force (GPF) is encouraging collaboration through very structured and developmental approaches, and in line with the Force’s strategic plan.
Traffic Chief, Superintendent Ramesh Ashram, addressed the first issue at the meeting when he spoke on the use of sirens and flashing lights on security vehicles.
Mr. Ashram made it clear that security vehicles are not categorized as ‘emergency vehicles’ such as those used by the Police Force, Fire Service and Ambulance. Hence, the private security services need to comply with road rules and regulations and not have sirens or flashing lights on their vehicles. If caught, Ashram said it will result in the revocation of their Motor Vehicle Certificate of Fitness.
Deputy Commissioner ‘Operations’ (ag) Mr. Ravindradat Budhram, in his brief remarks, congratulated the private security firms for their continuous support to the Guyana Police Force over the years. However, he suggested that private security personnel should not only be trained to protect property or to guard a place, but it is imperative that they have some amount of general and local knowledge and they are trained in customer service.
“Your responsibility is to ensure the provision of quality service to your clients. Therefore it’s imperative to enhance training in your organization so as to improve the quality of service provided,” Mr. Budhram posited.
“Another issue I want to touch on is that whenever persons are on duty or when they are being relieved of duty, the measures of securing firearms collected from persons who were on duty are oftentimes not in keeping with the procedures or the SOPs that need to be followed and we need to ensure this is done,” Mr. Budhram urged.
He also alluded to the fact that Guyana is on an upward growth trajectory, and with this reality comes security challenges that we will need to prepare for in the future.
In this context, he underscored the importance of the private security services and firms collaborating with the Police Force in making Guyana a safer place.
Commissioner of Police (ag) Mr. Clifton Hicken, in his remarks, underscored the importance of having private security firms and the crucial role they play in partnering with the Police Force in ensuring we have a safer society for all Guyanese.
He also commended the private firms for their reduction of ‘accidental discharge’ of firearms and urged them to take great care and caution and to pay heed to the practical and theoretical aspects of security training.
“The Guyana Police Force and private security firms will continue to work in partnership,” Mr. Hicken assured, while mentioning that there is a need for more collaborative effort as it relates to information sharing.
Mr. Hicken told the gathering that after today’s engagement there must be a positive change in behaviour, posture and professionalism in all private security services in Guyana.
Mr. Hicken also called on the private security firms to have a standardized employment procedure.
“Security firms must do complete background checks when hiring personnel as this will help to ensure you protect and maintain the image of your organization and by extension your clients and our country,” Mr. Hicken asserted.
Stressing on the need to be neat and maintain uniformity and decorum, the Police Commissioner reminded the audience that their mode of dress is of great importance and must at all times be adhered to.
The Commissioner also spoke about professionalism within security firms, highlighting instances where security personnel are seen on social media, including the popular ‘Tic Toc’, posing with big guns and in their uniforms.
“This is unacceptable and unprofessional and this trend needs to stop immediately,” the Top Cop chided.
Mr. Hicken said there are instances where security firms would have their officers exposing large weapons while on duty and this has the potential to create a hostile situation with civil society. It can also have negative implications for Guyana’s tourism sector, as well as the general safety of citizens.
To this end, the Top Cop said there must be professionalism, especially when it concerns handling of firearms. Mr. Hicken also encouraged the proprietors of the private security firms to conduct frequent training within their organizations to enhance efficiency and customer service.
Minister Benn, in his remarks, urged the proprietors of the private security firms to ensure professionalism is maintained and that there should be continuous improvements in the quality of service offered to clients.
Noting that continuous training is important, he charged: “I want you all to impart that knowledge to the persons you have in your employ… the duty and responsibility reside with you to ensure that you run your services professionally and to make sure that the persons you employ do so in a professional manner so as to mitigate risks.”
“We need a safe, secure and democratic Guyana,” Minister Benn declared.
He noted that we need security firms to be licensed and to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them.
The Minister also informed the representatives that he is prepared to revoke the license of any private security firm that is found in breach of the law.
Mr. Benn also endorsed the sentiments expressed by previous speakers as it relate to the need for more training to be done with security personnel.
The minister said it is important to maintain a professional security posture, as well as being alert and aware.
“Your responsibility is to provide discrete service to your clients and to protect them, not to act outside of the law,” Minister Benn told the representatives.
In closing, Mr. Benn thanked the Police Commissioner and his team for affording him the opportunity to meet and engage with representatives from the various security services.
Minister Benn said he also look forward to the strengthening of partnership and having more collaborative efforts between the private security services and the Guyana Police Force.
(Guyana Police Force)