The recent rapid increase of homicidesand the barbaric nature of these crimes have sent shock waves throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The New Democratic Party is deeply concerned about this upsurge and dangerous trend in our society.
The following is a statement by the New Democratic Party: Vincentian society was shocked at the discovery of the decomposed body of a 17 year old woman in the community of Murray’s Village on the outskirts of Kingstown on Thursday 12 May 2022.
Then on Monday 16th May 2022, local police confirmed another shooting death in the New Montrose area. The victim brings to sixteen (16) the number of homicides in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) so far this year. This follows a four (4) day spate of four (4) murders. It does not go unnoticed that two (2) of the victims in this short period are women.
Should the current rate continue, St. Vincent and the Grenadines would equal its 2016 record-breaking murder count of forty (40) for the year. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) ranks 2016 in SVG as the 6th bloodiest in the world in the period 2012 to 2020.
A significant percentage of these homicides remain unsolved as the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force seems unequipped to come to grips with this crisis. This incompetence stands in stark contrast to the enthusiasm and vigour exercised in the pursuit and arrest of critics of the ULP administration and in preventing citizens from exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and association.
Of greater concern is the administration’s refusal to acknowledge the depth of this crisis since 2007. It is evident that as Minister of National Security Dr. Gonsalves has failed to be “tough on crime and the causes of crime.”
In twenty (20) years the minister and successive commissioners of police (the current Commissioner of Police Colin John being included) have failed to present to the nation a credible and comprehensive plan to deal with spiralling crime. It would appear that such a plan has not even been drafted. The time has come for the administration to engage real expertise
While we offer our sympathies to families directly affected by violent crime, we recognize that expressions ring hollow without action. The New Democratic Party renews our call for a bipartisan, broad-based approach to the development and implementation of strategies for combating crime.
We call on anyone with information that might assist the police in their investigations to contact the police immediately.
Stop the Causes of Crime
The New Democratic Party (NDP) strongly believes that to effectively combat crime; the emphasis should be placed on identifying the likely causes of crime and developing a strategy to remove them.
We will implement the Spiritual Social and redemption charter as an important programme in crime prevention; commission a review of existing research into the causes of crime followed by research in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to determine which of these causes are applicable here. This will inform the strategies we introduce for combating crime.
Also, vigorously pursue community policing by increasing the visibility of police on the beat, involving police in trust-building activities in communities, and by providing specific training in community policing. And, institute measures that will encourage regular meetings with the police and certain communities about the resolution and reduction of criminal conduct in those communities.
Our Plans for the Criminal Justice System
The NDPrecognizes the importance of developing and maintaining an effective criminal justice system to convict, incarcerate and importantly rehabilitate convicted offenders.An effective and well-resourced criminal justice system enhances the chances of securing convictions against those who commit criminal offences. This system involves the police, the Director of Public Prosecutions, lawyers, the courts, magistrates, judges and the penal system.
It is therefore of paramount importance that those persons and institutions mentioned are appropriately equipped to deal with reported crimes in order to ensure that the guilty are convicted and the innocent are set free. But most importantly, they ensure the maintenance of law and order and the preservation of the rights and freedoms of Vincentians. The NDP takes the maintenance of those rights and freedoms very seriously, and will introduce measures that will strengthen the criminal justice system.
This will be effected by: conducting a comprehensive review of the laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; introducing measures that will simplify and improve access to justice; increasing the number of magistrates; revising the laws to increase the sentencing options that are available to magistrates and judges; expanding the High Court and improving its facilities; upgrading the forensic lab in order to expedite the prosecution of offences and to reduce the number of cases that are outstanding; reviewing the remuneration and method of promotion of police officers in order to ensure that promotion and remuneration are primarily based on merit, and reviewing the Police Legislation to bring it up to date with the requirements for modern policing.
Further, arranging for extensive training of police and prison officers, especially in the field of information technology; establishing a Civilian Police Complaint Commission to receive complaints against police officers from both civilians and fellow police officers; establishing a Young Persons Rehabilitation Centre for non-violent young first time offenders and for juvenile delinquents; introducing a rigorous rehabilitation programme that will be designed to improve the lives of inmates after they have left the prisons and reduce the chances of them becoming repeat offenders; reviewing the remuneration of prison officers and the promotion system to ensure that their career growth is dependent on performance and achievement; identifying communities in which new police stations will be constructed.And, reintroducing the Police Cadet Service to provide young persons with an avenue into the Police Force. The NDPis committed to fighting crime.