GPF Immigration Department
By Police Constable 24584 Clifford George
The Guyana Police Force is made up of many departments which are essential for its day to day operations, one such department is the Immigration Department.
This branch of the Force provides two important services to the public. These are the passport service (provision of passports and other travel documents) and other services at Ports of Entry.
The present ports of entry are: Moleson Creek, Ogle, Timehri, Parika, Charity, Morawhanna, Lethem and Eteringbang, New Amsterdam, Georgetown, Bartica and Springlands.
The Chief Immigration Officer is the Commissioner of Police Mr. Leslie James DSS., DSM and there is a Deputy Chief Immigration Officer who is the head of the department (Branch Commander), this position is currently held by Superintendent Ewart Wray.
Previously, the immigration department was a section under the Special Branch and consequently the Head Special Branch was the Deputy Chief Immigration Officer.
The Officer directly in-charge of Immigration was referred to as the Senior Immigration Officer.
During 1993 under the tenure of the late former Commissioner Laurie Leland Lewis DSS, DSM, the Immigration Department was delinked from the Special Branch and became a department of the Force within its own rights, headed by the Deputy Chief Immigration Officer.
In 1989 the Central Immigration and Passport Office was located at the Old Train Station building situated in Lamaha Street, Georgetown, at the head of Carmichael Street.
This was a temporary location while the office on Camp Road, Georgetown was being renovated. Prior to being at Camp Road, the immigration Office was located at the first building in the Brickdam Police Station compound which now houses the Enquiries Office and the Criminal Investigation Department.
In 1991 the office returned to Camp Road in a newly renovated building which has increased in size and change in configuration.
Since the separation in 1993, there has been several Deputy Chief Immigration Officers drawn from different Divisions and Branches of the Force; the Late Commissioner of Police Mr. Henry Greene, DSS, DSM, was the first to serve in this capacity and at that time he was an Assistant Commissioner. Significantly, he later became the Chief Immigration Officer.
Other heads of the Department were;
- Retired Assistant Commissioner Ms. Maylene Beaton
- Retired Deputy Commissioner Mr. Lloyd Stewart, DSM (Deceased)
- Retired Assistant Commissioner Ms. Carlotta Dodson (Deceased)
- Retired Senior Superintendent Mr. Kamrul Hassan
- Retired Assistant Commissioner Mr. Krishna Lekhraj
- Retired Assistant Commissioner Ms. Paulette Morrison
- Retired Assistant Commissioner Mr. George Vyphius, DSM
- Retired Assistant Commissioner Carol Lewis Primo DSM
- Retired Assistant Commissioner Dale Alves
- Assistant Commissioner Paul Langevine DSM
Presently Superintendent Ewart Wray holds the post of Deputy Chief Immigration Officer while Deputy Superintendent Fredella Boyce is Second-in- Command
As Part of the Force’s reformation process, the Immigration Department has made significant strides. These are depicted in every area of the department including the working environment, accommodation, human resource and technology.
The Passport Service has decentralized through a gradual process. First, persons who applied for their passport in Georgetown were allowed to uplift at passport offices in New Amsterdam Springlands, Linden, Lethem, Bartica, Anna Regina and Parika. It later evolved to where the application process was decentralized, practically. This allows persons who would have already been issued with Machine Readable Passport (MRP) to apply and uplift at New Amsterdam and Linden.
Soon the department will be expanding its service so that persons with all categories of passport will be able to apply and uplift in Berbice and Linden.
Years ago, it took several months for citizens to receive their new passport; today a passport is ready within five working days.
By way of training programmes in the area of Customer Service, at the Felix Austin Police College in collaboration with other agencies such as the Guyana Tourism Authority, the Department of Public Service etc, ranks of the department are able to deliver a high level of professional and courteous service which from time to time is acknowledged by members of the public.
An early recognized change in the department’s approach was when the uniform was changed from the regular blue and black worn by the general Police ranks to what is being worn today; a change to a less militaristic appearance. Cognizant of the importance on tourism, this new look is consistent with what occurs at other airports worldwide.
Simultaneous with the machine readable passport launch, was the commencement of the Border Management System at the main ports of entry. This is a state-of-the-art system used to manage our ports of entry and which enables persons to clear immigration faster while at the same time providing the level of scrutiny that is required for secure border control.
The department has maximized its capacity, enabling it to network with regional and international counterparts and to confront new challenges. A test to this was the Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007 and CARIFESTA 2008, which were held in Guyana; these were monumental tasks but of great significance to the people of Guyana. There were numerous other large organized events in Guyana subsequently.
In the end, the department surmounted the challenges faced and contributed to the successful hosting of these major events. However, this is not to detract from the continuous efforts that are being made during the peak seasons at ports of entry, particularly the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, and daily at the Central and passport Office.
At every active port of entry, ranks are available on a twenty-four hour basis, in adequate numbers, to provide the required service to the travelling public.
In 2007 the immigration Department was awarded the “Public Service Award for Excellence” through the use of technology and other resources, by the Private Sector Commission in recognition of its commendable service to the public. Since then, there were other complimentary expressions in the media highlighting the Department’s achievements.
On a lighter note, the Central Immigration and Passport Office at Camp Road, Georgetown, copped second place in the non-commercial category of the decorated building competition for the 2011 Republic Anniversary Celebrations; first place for the Best Pavement and second place for the decorated and illuminated building competition for the 2013 Republic Anniversary Celebrations.
Ranks also participated in the Force First Aid Competition and won on many occasions. Also on a number of occasions the Immigration Department came out victorious in the Force’s debating competition and Route March.
The immigration department is currently positioned to provide the necessary and timely service to the public and at the same time the required security to the state, as it is mandated to do. However, this could not have been achieved without the prudent direction from the Chief Immigration Officer, strong management from the Deputy Chief Immigration Officer and the commitment and dedication of the ranks along with patience, understanding and cooperation from the public.
REFERENCE “The Guyana Police Force Magazine” Edition 2013