KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — Member of Parliament for the Southern Grenadines, Terrance Ollivierre has commended the police for curbing a recent crime wave in that constituency.
He, however, said there needs to be more police patrol of the multi-island district — including Canouan, Mayreau, the Toabago Cays, and Union Island — where some islands are closer to Grenada than Kingstown.
“… something needs to be done in terms of the patrol of the waters of the Southern Grenadines because we have been hearing of all sorts of illegal activities,” Ollivierre said.
Ollivierre, speaking Wednesday on the opposition New Democratic Party’s programme on Nice Radio, said Southern Grenadines residents and businesses need protection.
“… when you lie down at night in your homes, you want to feel that you are safe and you don’t want to be jumping to find that there are intruders in your house. There are lots of things that need to be done,” the opposition lawmaker said.
Ollivierre explained that over the past few weeks there has been an increase in crime — including burglaries and armed robberies — in the Southern Grenadines, where tourism is the main revenue generator.
“The business community and a lot of people were very fearful for what was happening because they didn’t know who was doing it and what was actually happening,” he explained.
“Because when you have a situation where people wake up the next day to find masks in their yards and footprints and all these kinds of things, it makes you really wonder what is really happening.”
Ollivierre, Tourism Minister Saboto Caesar, Commissioner of Police Keith Miller, and other members of the Police Force met recently to evaluate the situation.
The meeting discussed a closer relationship between the police and residents to encourage people with information to come forward, and to make them more comfortable giving information to the police, Ollivierre explained.
Ollivierre spoke of greater police presence in the islands and seas of the constituency, a police youth club, and other initiatives to improve confidence in the police and to build the relationship with the police and community.
According to Searchlight newspaper, Tourism Minister Saboto Caesar, speaking after two armed robberies aboard yachts in the Tobago Cays during the carnival weekend, said, “We will not allow criminals to place any foothold on St. Vincent and the Grenadines that will damage the reputation of our country.”
One person was assaulted and battered in the attack and Caesar emphasized that his Ministry has zero tolerance for criminal activity that affects visitors.
He said the police were already questioning two suspects and plan to establish a substation in Mayreau and reinforce the Rapid Response Unit in Union Island.
At the meeting in to discuss the crime situation, the police “relieve the fear of the people by letting them know what they were putting things in place to come up with some plan to stop what was happening in the area,” Ollivierre said.
The police increase patrols in the area and further encouraged residents to partner with them to flush out the perpetrators.
“It was very important that the police and other people in the community take a stand in order to try to see what they can do to stop the level of crime, which all of a sudden seem to spring up in this area,” Ollivierre said.
“I must commend the police, because, during this crisis — if I should call it that — they were really out time after time during hours of the night patrolling,” he said.
He further said that resident engaged in neighbourhood watch schemes, “working hand-in-hand with the police to see what can be done”.
“But, sometimes, say the police were just in one area, … after they moved or retired to their home only to hear that someplace in that area was broken into,” Ollivierre said.
“People were naturally scared [of] what was taking place and during that time I know the police … heightened patrols in some areas … to see if they could try to prevent the people who were doing what they were doing.
“But, as you know, we are small islands, closely located. So when they (the police) were out on one (island), it seems like the crooks were looking, so when they (the police) on one, they (the criminals) seem to turn to the other area,” he explained.
He said residents were concerned about their own safety and the impact on tourism in the area
“When you look at what was happening or what is still happening [on] a smaller scale, you understand why people naturally had to be concerned. And you would think that the people who are doing this sort of crime would realise that they are really hampering a vital industry … through [which] … quite a number of people earn their livelihood,” he said.