EDITORIAL: Spotlight on crime, violence
LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES across the English-speaking Caribbean share certain commonalities which they need to address in a unified manner.
There is an opportunity to do so this week when the annual meeting of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners is held in Barbados.
No longer can residents of Caribbean Community nations look at the level of crime and violence in Jamaica as unique to that country. The violent crime trend in Trinidad and Tobago, The Bahamas and even some islands in the Eastern Caribbean point to a worrisome trend.
Fortunately, Barbados has been spared the worst effects of this trend. Thankfully, we have an efficient police service that must still measure itself by higher standards and produce even better results.
One recognizable fact that ought not to escape us is that it is not only murders, gun-related and serious bodily harm crimes with which we must be concerned.
Other types have as crippling an impact.
It would be interesting to see research from our police services that documents the incidents of reported white collar crimes, some of which are overlooked or ignored. Sometimes these types of crimes linger in the system with no urgency attached to them.
The advent of mass-based technology means the creation of both new challenges and opportunities for the police, who cannot allow the criminal element, whether they are involved in violent crimes or in laundering money, to make any gains.
Officers must understand new phenomena such as social media and all the other cyber trends, while staying on top of the latest scientific methods to solve crimes.
We in Barbados, like most of the region, now view certain crimes that were once ignored as hot button issues. We speak of human trafficking, domestic violence and juvenile deviance.
Our police service, and its neighbouring counterparts, have a full schedule with which to grapple. They already have to deal with the illegal drugs and guns trade and its many spin-offs. This situation is unlikely to change.
The growth of an activist public who want results and demand transparency and good governance will only add to the pressure on the police, who must still reduce and solve crimes, make more arrests and have better response times to reduce citizens’ complaints. More emphasis must therefore be placed on ethics, effective handling of complaints and developing trust.
These must all be achieved with dwindling budgets while maintaining the effective application of manpower and visibility of all ranks in our communities.
Whatever the solutions, the priority for law enforcement must remain the protection of life and property while preventing and detecting crime.