Our Readers' Opinions
June 10, 2016
Let us all re-unite in the fight against crime

Editor: Please permit me to write on a burning issue which is confronting our country today and which would have severe consequences if we do not apprehend this problem quickly. This is the dramatic increase in murders.

Murders in SVG

It is with deep regret that I write about the spate of violent crimes, in particular murders, which is currently plaguing our country, a country which was deemed ‘the land of the blessed.’ Statistics show that St Vincent and the Grenadines experienced a murder rate of 38 in 2014, 25 in 2015 and so far for 2016, there have been approximately 16 recorded murders.{{more}} This is overwhelming for a country with a population of just over 100,000. It is almost on par with Jamaica, which is deemed the “murder capital,” whose murder rate stands at 44.2 per 100,000 and Trinidad and Tobago whose murder rate is 30.6 per 100,000.

The majority of the murders committed here in St Vincent and the Grenadines are through the use of illegal firearms. Our country is not known to be the manufacturer of firearms and ammunition, so the question one has to consider is “Where are all the guns coming from?” With the tightening of the Central American borders, the Caribbean Sea is now used to transport illegal drugs, firearms and ammunition. These are very easily entered into our country because of its geographic location and its open space. This easy access without any challenges is creating a smile on the faces of many drug dealers and lawbreakers, but on the other hand is making life very uncomfortable for law enforcement, law-abiding citizens and investors who are willing to come to our shores. Our lack of resources, such as a main coastguard vessel, has stifled our ability to prevent and intercept these ills that now confront us. If we are to seriously tackle the issue of crime in our country, we must go back to biblical principles. All persons living in this country and the relevant institutions, such as the government, member of parliament, the churches, non-profitable organizations, the legal system, the police, the schools and every citizen of this nation must play their part, as it affects social cohesion, political stability, economic activities, in particular investment opportunities, and the tourism industry.

The following are some suggestions to deal with the situation as it stands as a matter of urgency:

1. Implement a gun amnesty for a period of two weeks.

2. Upon expiration of the two weeks, a sweep on hot spot areas.

3. Implement stiffer penalties for persons caught with illegal firearms after the amnesty.

4. Rather than purchasing expensive vehicles for the police, change the laws of the Tenders Board to allow the purchase of at least 25 used cars for the police to enable effective patrols and to respond to reports in a timely manner, which is in keeping with modern policing.

5. Organize community consultations throughout the country and develop a strategic crime reduction plan.

6. Provide employment for the youths, which would keep them out of crime. It has been proven that high unemployment leads to an increase in crime.

Following this short-term strategy, a few long-term suggestions are:

1. Improve the coastguard and police, to secure the borders in order to prevent those guns from coming into our country.

2. Implement CCTV cameras around Kingstown, which should be monitored by a central unit.

3. Implement more meaningful community outreach programmes.

4. Implement a modernized communication system for the police.

5. Provide the requisite training for all police officers, so that there will be very few mistakes throughout their investigations of such cases. Once individuals are of the view that they stand a great chance of getting away with murders based on technicalities or poor investigation techniques, they will be enticed to take the chance to commit such acts.

Let us all re-unite in the fight against crime and make St Vincent and the Grenadines once again the land of the blessed!

Brenton Smith