By Leroy Smith
The police in West Demerara over the years have been fielding countless reports of crimes in Parfaite Harmonie, West Bank Demerara. These reports are mostly relating to pickpockets and break and entry and larceny. (BEL) as it is referred to by the police, is one of the most recurring crime in communities across the country and is often responsible for the spike in statistics which reflect negatively on the respective divisions and ultimately the general police reports on crimes for a corresponding period.
On Wednesday the BIG Smith Crime Watch visited to the community where residents were engaged specifically on the issues of break and entry and larceny, pickpockets, unoccupied homes, vacant lots with thick overgrowth, loiters and the yet to be commission $53 Million Guyana Dollars a Police Station, all of which does have direct security implications for the thousands of persons living in the housing scheme.
Contacted on Wednesday evening, Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan when asked about the commissioning of the Parfaite Harmonie Police Station, asked that checks be made with the Permanent Secretary of the ministry. Contacted, the Permanent Secretary noted that the Police Station was handed over to the Guyana Police Force and that questions as to why it has not yet been commissioned should be asked of the Commissioner of Police. Efforts to contact the Top Cop proved futile but we did manage to contact his Personal Assistant who was briefed on what our enquires were, he was asked to convey same to the Commissioner of Police for a comment but up to press time, BIG Smith Crime Watch received no feedback.
“We getting a lot of break in especially, well it never use to happen before but now most of the time during the day when everybody gone to work and stuff. So it will be nice if the police station can be opened so that we can feel a little more safe, comfortable and relax and you would not have to worry so much” Faneela Lall a resident of Westminister Phase 1 said.
She further spoke of several heads of cattle which were stolen from the family. “You don’t ever get a proper satisfaction so like if you if the police station right here I think it will be more prompt and they will respond more” the woman added.
A Scoonard resident explained that she has no security concerns that based on what she has been hearing, most of the breakages takes place at Onderneeming last bridge. The woman explained that the area is occupied by persons who years ago, were removed from the Lamaha Street Government reserve. One gentleman spoke of the unemployed young people in the community who gang up at the street corners in apparent ‘Reconnaissance mode’
“We are very concerned about the thief men them, that station that they putting down there is very good it is wonderful and I like it. We don’t see patrols often but I am not sure what happens in the night because when I take my bed I ain’t looking out back. But in the day you does get one, one coming through but too often. I think everything will change when the station open you will have more patrols and more police in the area and you will have less convicts and thieving”
Concerns were also raised with the location the government is building a school at Onderneeming last bridge. We were told that the area is general desolate building the school closer to the front of the scheme might have been a bit more appropriate where eyes can be kept on the children, the school and it’s surroundings.
We were told also that there was a shift in the loitering by unemployed youth. They have ceased loitering at their originally spot which is in direct view of the police station that is yet to be commissioned, and are now loitering in the area where the school is now under construction; a major concern that should be addressed even before the school becomes operational, one resident explained.
“Get the loiterers off the street and that will be better for we, they have bicycle robberies in the area; they does pull up with the bicycles and take away your purse so we have to get more lights in the area especially this main road here. The bush has to be cleared. Clear the side of the road that we can see right through because they hiding through the alleyways and track ways and collecting you there” a middle-aged man related.
One man who said he lives alone, seems to have been experiencing the worst of what the community has to offer, in terms of those with intent to commit acts of lawlessness.
“I been encountering break and enters since I am living here five years ago and they break me so many times that you don’t even bother with it anymore because the police don’t come. The last break and enter that I had was like two weeks before Christmas, my daughter was here and she had to give them the little money that we had. I made a report about 9:30 they finish with me about 12:O. Clock and the police came here till around 06:O. Clock, so it ain’t make sense”
He said there are times he would see persons passing with stuff which he knows were removed from the homes of persons but he does not follow it up as the police are never available to come when they are called.
La Parfaite Harmonie is one of the largest housing development projects of the Central Housing and Planning Authority. While bearing its general name, the housing development was actually a fusion of several plantations, namely Scoonard, La Parfaite Harmonie, Westminister, Onderneeming, Recht door Zee and Lust En Rust.
The scheme falls within Region 3, West Demerara. West Demerara is referred to by some as the ‘bed and breakfast region’. The latter reference is derived from the fact that many of the persons living in Region are employed outside of it and would rise at mornings, have their breakfast then travel to their jobs in other regions before returning to sleep at nights.