KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace believes that the upsurge in crime here is related to the contracted economy.
Further, he reiterated on Monday his party’s belief that the Dr. Ralph Gonsalves Unity Labour Party administration should reconsider it approach to fighting crime.
This country has registered three years of economic decline and 0.8 per cent growth is projected for this year.
This country had registered about 20 homicides this year. Last week, there were two suspected homicides, where partly decomposed bodies were found here.
One of the bodies, found in Welcome on Oct. 30, is believed to be that of Dauphine resident Shanika Small, 20, who went missing on Oct. 21.
Meanwhile, a body found in the mountains of Layou on Friday is said to be that Stefan Miller, 12, a resident of that Central Leeward town.
Police on Monday said they are at a critical stage of their investigations into the Small’s disappearance while D.J. Patterson, who made national headlines 15 year ago when he was said to have been a victim of police brutality at age 12, is said to be assisting police with investigation into the death of his townsman.
“You see this upsurge of crime that we are having here, I have spoken and members of my party have spoken over and over again about our approach to crime because crime relates to the economy,” Eustace said Monday, although not relating to any particular case.
“… And you notice that people are getting more and more impatient with crime. People [are] looking now to take their own action against people … and that is something we have to be very careful about,” the New Democratic Party (NDP) leader further stated.
“We have a legal system here, which is supposed to be free and fair but people are not waiting,” Eustace said.
He further stated that the NDP thinks that the government’s approach to crime “is wrong” and that is why the party prepared its Social, Spiritual and Redemption Charter eight years ago.
“We cannot address crime simply on the basis of strengthening the police force and giving them better equipment and so on.
“We have to take preventative action and that is what our charter is about: to minimize the possibilities, as much as you can, of people reaching the stage where they commit a crime, by affecting the way they think and their values at an early age,” Eustace said.