Understanding and Combatting Crime in Guyana

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Dec 2017
Over the past decade, Guyana has recorded impressive economic growth. Many argue that the country’s economic future looks even brighter thanks to the recent massive oil discovery. But its development potential is hindered by many factors, including high levels of crime and violence tied to low levels of interpersonal trust and social cohesion and low trust in criminal justice institutions. Important related factors include high tolerance for the use of violence to solve problems in the home and the community. These issues can be successfully addressed by promoting a better balance between crime suppression and prevention programmes. However, for such programmes to be successful, the country needs data that are consistent, reliable, and detailed. Specifically, this means data that are collected frequently and are disaggregated according to critical demographics, such as gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic stratum, and neighbourhood. Resources should be directed towards (1) acquiring an adequate quality and quantity of data that will ensure greater success in preventative programmes to increase the country’s return on investment, (2) promote more preventative programmes and conduct rigorous monitoring and evaluation to identify the effects, and (3) improve the capacity and performance of the criminal justice system by improving police investigation capabilities and training on community relations, improved case management for the courts, and increased use of alternative sentencing based on clear rules.