EDITORIAL – Let not our fear of crime be the penalty
I don’t think that you need to say police have crime under control, because that is the mistake that a lot of countries make, and it is a mistake that we don’t want to make. It is not only the police, but the police working with the rest of Barbados to deal with these issues. – Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin in an exclusive interview in yesterday’s SUNDAY?SUN.
OUR?POLICE?CHIEF says that “without a doubt” his men and women, working with the rest of Barbados, have crime under control. We ourselves have no doubt that Police Commissioner Dottin and his team do their utmost to secure us from the criminal-minded, and that when serious malefaction does occur their response is immediate and thorough.
But does that spell “control” of crime if the stats on such lawless conduct show a roller-coasting trend? This can be a never-ending debate among the criminologists, social scientists, psychologists, homeowners and gentle civilians . . . .
Homeowner and civilian like “the lady” at THE NATION’S Wednesday Talkback town hall meeting, to whom Mr Dottin himself alluded, who was saying there was a lot of unreported [and therefore unrecorded] crime in Barbados, and implying criminal activity could not have been under control.
In Mr Dottin’s favour we must concede that there is hardly a country where what is reported to the police is the “full extent” of its criminal activity. But we proffer there are fewer yet which will boast – even with the help of the people – of having crime under control.
In places where serious crime is committed every few minutes, all that the lawful authorities can do is respond promptly. Fighting crime has literally become a way of life; prevention of it is a dream hoped for.
Some people say the scourge of the metropolitan cities of the North has come to the once tranquil Caribbean. We cannot say Barbados has been stricken by it. Mr Dottin spoke to the United Nations report showing the Caribbean to be one of the most violent places in the world, with a homicide rate of 30 per 100 000 a year, to demonstrate the relative sedateness of Barbados with a singularized rate of less than ten per 100 000.
While these stats may be illustrative of national comfort, they do not necessarily translate to public confidence, a fact we must not lose sight of. And which Mr Dottin certainly has not. He acknowledges that not only must the people’s perception of crime be managed, but so must their fear of it.
The commissioner thus sees a need for more discussion with Barbadians: not just presenting crime stats but adequate analysis with it. We hold him to it – and to analysis that is timely!