These are some of the recommendations that the opposition party, the People’s Action Movement, PAM, has tabled to the government of Prime Minister, Dr. Denzil Douglas.
The suggestions have come as a result of the recent spike in homicides in the country.
Party leader, Lindsay Grant says these crime fighting initiatives are essential and incorporate a list of short, medium and long term programmes. He explained that these are plans that the party, in consultation with local and regional crime and law enforcement experts, including former police officers, have developed and is recommending to the government for implementation.
Mr. Grant indicated that the People’s Action Movement cares deeply about the increase in crime, especially the escalating murder rate, the proliferation of guns, gang violence among the youths and illegal drug trafficking.
He said they are therefore imploring the Denzil Douglas-led Labour Administration to consider PAM’s CRIME INITIATIVE.
The following are the specific recommendations that PAM has put forward to the government:
Recommended Crime Initiatives
The People’s Action Movement proposes an immediate injection of finance and an increase in investment in the human resource capability and crime fighting equipment of the Police Force.
An Upsurge in Crime
There has been a general increase in crime, but most alarmingly, in the number of murders in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. From 1995 to December 2009, there have been 168 murders.
In 1995, there were four (4) murders in St. Kitts and Nevis. In 2008, this figure had risen to 23, and in 2009, 27 murders. In 2010 the country recorded 20 murders and as at August 22nd 2011 the federation has had an unprecedented 27 murders for the year.
House breaking, armed robbery and larceny have also shown a recent upsurge. Masked men now hold up unsuspecting families in their homes.
The Peoples Action Movement recommends a three pronged approach to crime fighting. That 3 prong approach must be short, medium and long term.
Our Police Force
To provide for the safety and security of all citizens and visitors to our shores by reducing the level of crime in St Kitts and Nevis; to improve and make more efficient the crime fighting system which will be accessible to all, equipped with modern policing methods and technologies to ensure success.
Coast Guard, Fire and Rescue Services will have to be expanded and administrative resources and support enhanced to accomplish crime fighting objectives.
To improve the crime situation the Peoples Action Movement recommends:
- Allowing the Police Force to function free of political interference, under the auspices of a functional Police Commission.
- Establishing a properly functioning, non political National Advisory Council appointed by Government, Opposition and the NGOs.
- Remuneration of Police Officers based on academic achievements, skill levels and performance. Also consider a commission payment scheme based on crimes solved/arrests made.
- Professionalizing the Police Force by giving it its own Budget and clear roles of responsibility, as determined by the National Advisory Council on Crime.
- Increasing the number of police officers to provide the force with the capability to meet the local crime demands by reintroducing a beat and patrol program in areas of major criminal activity.
- Developing and training a Specialized Gang Unit in overseas locations where such efforts have been successful. New York, Bridgetown etc
- Increasing the training of police at ALL levels especially in crime scene management and forensics.
- Establishing a modern Forensic Laboratory staffed with highly trained officers.
- Improving the conditions of work of the police by providing the correct work environment, improved accommodation and added incentives, thereby enhancing job satisfaction.
- Implementing a number of 24 hour armed Mobile Patrols called Police Quick Response Units comprising of three officers one of whom should be from Special Forces.
- Remove the Import Duties and VAT on Business and Residential Security Systems.
- Expand Pension Scheme for Police/Security Forces/Fire/Coast Guard to protect spouses of persons who die or become incapacitated during duty.
- Purchase ceased Power Boats from US Customs and Drug Agencies, in sufficient numbers to protect our coastline and have them stationed not only in Basseterre but in Dieppe Bay, Long Point and New Castle in Nevis.
- Place great emphasis on molding the minds of our Primary and Secondary School Students.
- Ensuring that all divisions of National Security work seamlessly and effectively, including the department’s civil service especially the Permanent Secretary and senior staff.
- Increase random Stop and Search activity covering both young males and females.
- Pass legislation to make many small charges Ticket-able Offences thereby relieving pressures on the court system.
The Court Systems in St Kitts and Nevis must work closely and effectively with other arms of the justice system to ensure that Law and Order are maintained at all times.
People’s Action Movement recommends:
- Increase the number of Magistrates to handle the gross increase in petty crimes.
- Withdraw the instructions given to Police not to arrest or charge certain individuals.
- Request the appointment of a second Resident High Court Judge.
- Establish Night Courts to deal with non custodial crimes, traffic violations.
- Install ‘walk through’ Metal Detectors in all Magistrate and High Courts.
- Provide Witness Protection overseas for crucial witnesses in murder cases.
- Use CCTV cross examination of witnesses, with identity blocked, in gang related murder cases.
- Encourage the Bar Association to play a more active and constructive role in society as part of the “war on crime”.
- Eliminate jail terms in cases of small debts.
Upgrading the Penal System
The present Penal System is no longer serving the needs of our society. Incarceration of and by itself is too limited and has been proven ineffective.
The People’s Action Movement recommends:
- Introduce the necessary Legislation to reform the Penal System.
- Introduce a Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.
- Develop and introduce a proper rehabilitation programme for drug abusers. Not knowing if these criminals are drugged up when they commit their crimes.
- Work with Religious Leaders to develop special programmes to meet the needs of prisoners.
- Revamp the penal system to allow for correctional services, rehabilitation and vocational training for inmates and a separate remand holding centre for first timers and those youth awaiting trial.
- Build a spacious modern secure Prison where hardened criminals can be separated from youthful remandees.
- Undertake speedy capital punishments of those sentenced.
Enhance Customs Services with K9 Units to better identify and seek out imported firearms.
- Create closer liaison between Customs and Coast Guard, operating jointly at sea on vessel searches.
Make operational all installed CCTV equipment and expand network to trouble spots throughout the island all feeding back to the nearest Police Station.
- Facilitate community watches in critical residential communities which can have negative impacts on our economies.
- Review the practice on residential firearms licenses.
- Undertake urban renewal programmes in certain communities which are hotbeds for criminal habitation.
- Have federal role models visit troubled communities regularly to speak with disenchanted youth.
- Provide fulltime security at all hospitals.
- Job creation as a tool against crime. Provide employers with concessions for employing potential gang members.
- Sell agricultural land at special prices to former gang members.
- Improve security at all schools.
- Employ permanent Counselors in all schools in the effort to fight crime
- Encourage the formation of After-School Clubs where volunteers will work with children to assist with homework and provide mentoring.
- Reintroduce Technical subjects in all secondary schools to give early school leavers an early interest in skill development.
- Provide counseling for young families and single mothers in raising of kids in today’s society.
- Teach the subject of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in all secondary schools.
- Channel funds from the Citizenship By Investment program into the crime fighting effort to purchase hardware, pay for training, dogs and suitable vehicles