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EDITORIAL: Dealing with rampaging criminality

rhondathompson, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Dealing with rampaging criminality

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RAMPANT CRIMINALITY is provoking outcries across member states of our Caribbean Community (CARICOM), with top officials of regional institutions now joining political and private sector decision makers to urge new approaches to arrest this very challenging problem.
It is a problem that is wasting lives across ages and genders; taxing medical and social institutions and aggravating national/regional economies already struggling to cope with the consequences of a global financial and economic downturn.    
Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Sir Dwight Venner, is the latest in a line of top fiscal experts of the region to warn of the damaging social and economic consequences from rampaging gun-related crimes that are also drugs-related.
Before Sir Dwight’s comments last week were those of officials from Trinidad and Tobago’s Central Bank and the University of the West Indies, as well as more earlier, the warnings that came from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.
So disturbed by the crime epidemic affecting the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is Governor Venner that he thought it necessary to urge the governments of subregion to consider establishing a “single police force” as a “complement to the ECCB”.
Such a move, as he must appreciate, would require a level of careful political domestic restructuring that supports a concept of “sovereignty” appealing to the member countries of the OECS – all of which are, like Barbados, being currently served by the Regional Security System.
Sir Dwight may no doubt have ideas to share on his call for a “single police force” with the OECS leaders. But his immediate concern, as expressed at last week’s meeting of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police, is for some radical new approaches to combat armed gangs that are creating havoc for that subregion’s tourism industry.
Barbados and other leading tourism destinations, such as Jamaica and The Bahamas, can readily share the deep concerns of the ECCB Governor about the harmful consequences of spreading criminality for the tourism sector – a vital source of employment and foreign exchange.
Communities traumatised by gang warfare, often related to the culture of narco-trafficking and gun-running, are anxious for rapid responses. Hence, there are calls such as those for more mobile patrols of armed cops, “national crime consultations” as a means of motivating more enlightened anti-crime initiatives by the state and, of course, tougher laws.
Fact is that the region’s governments themselves appear to be overwhelmed by the murderous deeds of armed gangs. Some of them have already moved in the direction of introducing tougher laws to strengthen the response of the police and the courts to the epidemic of crime. Assessments of results are being awaited.

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