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No youth gang crisis, says Stuart

Andrew Browne, [email protected]

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SOME BAJAN YOUTHS may be restless, but youth gangs aren’t a menace to Barbados.
Still, the Royal Barbados Police Force is keeping an eye on the problem to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand.
So said Barbados’ Attorney General Freundel Stuart, who has warned against “naming and shaming” young people and the groups to which they belong.
He preferred instead to side with West Indies’ Anglican Archbishop, John Holder, Barbados’ Bishop, who rejected the idea of a mushrooming criminal youth gang problem in the country, similar to the situation in the United States and other parts of the Caribbean.
“I don’t think there is this threatening gang problem in Barbados,” the attorney general told the SATURDAY SUN in New York recently.
“We do have some restlessness in certain areas of the youth population and a lot of it has to do – let’s be very frank – with the despair that flows from the absence of access to employment and that kind of thing. We are going through a crisis in the world and Barbados is not unaffected.
“I think amongst our young people – young males and females – there are some challenges. A lot of our homes are under pressure, and a lot of our families are under pressure as a result, and we have these areas of restlessness,” Stuart said.
The attorney general was quick to say, however, that recent discussions with Police Commissioner Darwin Dottin showed that the law enforcement authorities were closely monitoring the situation.
“I don’t think it is at the level where one can describe it as a crisis,” said Stuart.
“The issues are being disaggregated and monitored. We are clear on the areas of challenge involving young people.
“There are some areas of restlessness which at the national security level we have been watching and are trying to ensure that they are brought under control.
“But I wouldn’t be inclined to exaggerate the threat at this time. I would be inclined to agree with the archbishop that ‘yes’ there are challenges out there, but not to be blown out of proportion . . .” (TB)

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