April 5, 2013

Nip it in the bud

Fri Apr 5, 2013

We carry a disturbing story this week about a series of robberies and burglaries, which have taken place in the Belair area over the last two months, with the victims being students of an offshore university operating here.{{more}}

Crime of any type is troubling, but when the victims are persons who are guests in our country, the ramifications are more far reaching, especially in today’s world of instant messaging, social media and online news sources.

So far, according to what the students told us, no one has been seriously injured, but we cannot let it get to that stage. As a community, we must act now, to stop the criminal element among us from irreparably damaging this growing industry, which has the potential to contribute significantly to our economy.

The students say they were prompted to come to the media out of fear, and because of what they see as a lack of an appropriate response by the police. The police however told us that they are working hard behind the scenes to bring those responsible to justice. They say they have met with the university officials, students and landlords to see how the students’ security could be enhanced, to make it more difficult for them to be successfully targeted.

Despite this, the students say they have not been updated about their cases and are fearful. Perhaps in cases such as these, the police need to go the extra mile to keep in touch with the victims, to let them know of the status of their cases and to reassure them that patrols in the area have been stepped up. This is necessary, as it is easy for these students, who for the most part are young people, far away from home, to feel particularly vulnerable in what is to them a strange, and now perhaps, hostile, environment.

The responsibility to bring this situation under control does not lie only with the police, however. The residents of Belair, who are some of the main beneficiaries of the school being in their community, must take a stand. What about neighbourhood watches? Does anyone have information, which may be useful to police about who might be responsible for the robberies and burglaries? When it was announced in late 2011 that a medical school was to be established in the area, a meeting was called with residents. Perhaps it is time for another meeting. We do not want this situation to get out of hand. Residents and landlords in the two other areas where we have offshore medical schools need also to be proactive and keep an eye out for our guests.

The students too must realize that as in any other country of the world, reasonable measures must be taken in terms of the security and safety of their person and property.

The unpleasant experience of the economic and social dislocation caused by the closure of the Kingstown Medical College in 2007 is still fresh in our minds. Let us use that experience to our benefit.