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EDITORIAL: Make sure Crop Over is safe


EDITORIAL: Make sure Crop Over is safe

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THIS YEAR’S CROP OVER FESTIVAL is upon us and no effort must be spared to ensure the safety of people who will be attending the mass events, as well as the revellers who will be on the streets for Foreday Morning and Grand Kadooment.

This concern for safety and the call for a full police presence come on the heels of Monday’s shooting of two people at the Christ Church Community Carnival. Not only were two men shot, but several people were trampled as participants scampered to safety after hearing the gunfire that rang out.

Officials and the police must start planning and strategising on how they intend to keep the festival safe for those participating, as well as those who will be on the road looking on.

Around Crop Over, there is always concern about the number of police officers needed to man the crush of events. There were also times when this newspaper reported that all leave for police officers was suspended to ensure there was a full force to effectively provide security cover for the various events. We hope this obtains this year and that  it is clear that nothing can be left to chance.

In addition to the national activities, there are private events that attract large crowds and need to be properly policed.

The reality is that the summer festival is one that is marketed heavily overseas and therefore attracts a large number of visitors. We therefore need to make sure that everything is done to have a safe, violence-free environment that allows for all to have a good time.

For this to happen, security checks need to be ramped up, as well as maximum security provided at all events. Would-be mischief-makers and criminals also need to understand the stain such violent acts can have on the festival among visitors who give a boost to the economy.

This week’s shooting must leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many with Barbados’ biggest festival just around the corner. We endorse the pleading of Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, who has already sounded the call to keep violence away from Crop Over.

He went further and warned those who planned to disrupt events to steer clear of the national festival or be prepared to feel the weight of the law.

We can only hope this is not “talk” but that officials are prepared to follow through on their promise to deal with the unruly elements and weed out bad behaviour.

A deterrent is needed to ensure that we keep all people safe, and our festivals violence-free.