January 15, 2013

An example needs to be made of those responsible for bomb threats

Tue, Jan 15, 2013

Now really! Could it be that among us in this society, there are people so ignorant or impervious that they do not realise or do not care about the serious consequences of calling in bomb threats to our public buildings and institutions?{{more}}

What is really going on? In the last few years, such calls have been made to hospitals, the court house, the airport, business places, a media house, government ministries, commercial banks, secondary schools, and the school of nursing. There was even a bomb scare a few years ago at a police lecture at the Peace Memorial Hall at which the Prime Minister and Commissioner were present.

Yesterday, bomb threat calls were made to the High Court office and to the female prison at Fort Charlotte. Last Friday, the E.T. Joshua airport had to be evacuated following such a call, resulting in a delay in flights and serious inconvenience to passengers, especially those who had already cleared security and were forced to go through that process again. On Sunday, we saw a repeat of a situation we thought would never happen again in this country. The patients and staff of the Georgetown hospital were forced to evacuate after a call was made to that facility.

Although the Georgetown hospital evacuation was on a much smaller scale, the incident was reminiscent of that horrific day in March 2008 when over 130 patients, some critically ill, and dozens of staff of this country’s main health facility had to be evacuated to the nearby Victoria Park, because of a bomb threat made to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

At that time, then Deputy Commissioner of Police Bertie Pompey had said mechanisms were in place to try to identify the person or persons responsible for the act, and he had no doubt that the justice system would make an example of the culprit once caught. As far as we are aware, to date, no one has been charged in relation to that 2008 incident.

In fact, we hardly ever hear of convictions or even prosecutions in relation to such crimes. A few years ago, a 17-year-old student of Bishop’s College Kingstown was arrested and charged with making a bomb threat by cellular phone to his school on September 28, 2006. He had been suspended from school two days before the call. However, when the case came before the court, it was discontinued by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) because of insufficient clarity in the evidence given to the court. The DPP expressed strong concern as to if the right person had been brought before the court to answer the charge.

We urge law enforcement to make tracking down those responsible for these bomb threats a priority. It is not until we make an example of someone, as the Deputy Commissioner said, that the message will come home to those who make the calls. These prank calls are not only an inconvience, but result in a loss of productivity and money, and increased stress levels for all concerned. In the case of bomb threats made to hospitals, people’s lives are placed at risk.

Just before going to press last night, SEARCHLIGHT was informed that a person suspected of making some of the recent bomb threats had been arrested by police and it was likely that charges would soon be laid. This is good news. Hopefully, the person under arrest is indeed the culprit and there is sufficient evidence for him or her to be found guilty.

Once found guilty, the full weight of the law should be brought to bear on that individual.