Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday. (File photo by Seymour Hinds)

Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday says that while crime and its causes are complex and multifaceted problems, people expect their government to provide security and to create an environment that fosters opportunities for growth and development.

“But I acknowledge that everyone has a role to play in combating crime and violence in our society. Not merely by securing our homes and staying put behind reinforced doors for security but by understanding the root of the problem and addressing the cause of crime,” he told Wednesday’s opening of the event “A National Conversation on Crime and Violence”.

“One thing I can say for certain is that it has long been established that there is not merely a correlation but a causal connection between economic hardship and an increase in crime,” Friday told the event, hosted by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Christian Council in collaboration with churches, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders and said that the expert would say more about this.

“This is as true here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as it is elsewhere. So it seems clear to me that one means of addressing the problem is by promoting economic growth and opportunities in our country.”

Friday said that joblessness and poverty are well known to be contributing factors to the crime rate.

Opposition Leader Godwin Friday, centre, and other members of the head table at Wednesday’s opening ceremony. (iWN photo)

“We must do more to create opportunities for our young people to find decent paying jobs to lift themselves out of poverty, to be given a chance at financial stability and economic independence.”

He said that the nation must also ensure that the youth are provided with alternative paths to foster positive behaviour, adding that these paths may include youth clubs, after-school programmes and sporting activities.

“This requires providing adequate facilities,” he said, adding that his New Democratic Party has spoken on this over the years in urging the implementation of its Spiritual and Social Redemption Charter, which, he said, includes many of the things that are spoken of as helping young people to find a positive path.

The opposition leader said that critical to reducing crime and violence in SVG “is the presence of equity in our justice system.

“Persons must have confidence in the criminal justice system so that they refrain from taking matters into their own hands. Our police and security officers must also be properly equipped and well-trained to handle and respond to reported instances of crime before they escalate.”

A section of the audience at the event on Wednesday. (iWN photo)

Friday, who is also Member of Parliament for the Northern Grenadines, said that community policing must be implemented as this promotes trust between the police and the people and aids in the detection and prevention of crime.

“Indeed, the problem of crime and violence in our country requires a holistic approach and response with all stakeholders ready and willing to play their part. Most importantly, an event hosted by the Christian Council is a great place to remind us all that in seeking answers, we must look to our Creator.

“As a God-fearing people, we must ensure that the message of hope, peace, and love permeates our Vincentian society. We must return to being our brother’s keeper. We must fight hatred with love, choose a better path and look for peaceful solutions to conflict. This is a good place to start in building a culture of peace in our communities and in our nation.

“In the Bible, it is written in Matthew chapter 5, blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. As leaders — political leaders, religious leaders, civil society leaders — we also have a duty to promote peaceful discourse, to be good examples for fellow citizens to follow. We must always have the courage to stand against actions and words that tend to lead to violence and may seek to justify criminal behaviour based on one’s political allegiance. Wrong must always be seen as wrong and called out as such without equivocation that masquerades misguidedly as the balanced approach.”

Friday said he was happy to be at the event, not only to offer his perspective on crime and violence in SVG but also to learn from participants and to work with the Christian Council, civil society and other social partners in finding solutions.

“I engage in criticism not merely to criticise but to shed light on the problem. I pledge my parliamentary colleagues, my party and myself to being part of the solution to this problem.”

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves also addressed the opening of the two-day event, which the Christian Council hopes will help to reduce crime and violence, especially gun-related ones, over a five-year period.

The council further hopes that the event engenders a wider conversation on the issue of violence in our society and explores practical ways in which the churches can aid in its prevention and/or reduction.

19 replies on “People expect gov’t to provide security — Friday”

  1. C. Ben-David says:

    It is false to claim, as Friday does, that there is a direct and unqualified relation between poverty and crime. The criminological literature suggests that this relationship is complex and convoluted and mediated by the cultural, religious, ethnic, and family background of individuals.

    As I have repeatedly said, we had far less crime, especially murders, when our country and people were far poorer than they are today; there are many countries whose people are far poorer and have a much higher unemployment rate but exhibit a far lower crime rate; and there are countries richer than we are with far less poverty and unemployment which show a higher crime rate than we do.

    It is wicked of Friday to try to score a few cheap political points by implicity blaming the current political regime for our crime rate when his party would have done no better reducing or controlling the crime rate if it were now in power.

    1. You are of course wrong C.ben. History shows that crime and poverty are certainly related. This was one of my areas of study for years in the University. How can you be so intelligent on so much and whenever the NDP, especially Friday says anything you are ALWAYS against it?

      1. C. ben-David says:

        I certainly did not claim that poverty and crime were unrelated but the relationship is far more complex than Friday implies, a notion that, of course, most of our unlettered masses could never comprehend which is why he oversimplified it in this way.

  2. C. Ben-David says:

    Why is Godwin Friday giving the sleeping Bishop Leopold Friday a cut eye?

    Was it because the Bishop year yawned off during Godwin Friday’s boring address?

    1. The speakers spoke from the podium. Friday could not have been at the podium at the head table at the same time. The prime minister was at the podium when the photo was taken.

      1. C. Ben-David says:

        You miss my point: one Friday — the Bishop — was sleeping — while the other Friday — the politician — was giving him a cut eye because, according to your comment, he was paying any attention whatsoever to the Honourable Prime Minister’s speech, a sacrilegious act if there ever was one since the PM calls God’s name and blessing any time he speaks.

        I thought that this was a nice touch of humour — as I hope is my reply to your reply — but I guess not.

        I’ll try harder next time to amuse one and all.

    2. C. ben, your total hatred of the NDP and especially Friday is really over the top. You certainly have great admiration for Gonsalves although you are very critical of his actions. It makes no sense to me. You admit all the mistakes of Gonsalves, even though you come out and support certain things, such as the Black Sands Resort.Maybe you are critical of him but you admire him for being a ruthless politician that has brought almost nothing but ruin to the country. Your criticism of absolutely EVERYTHING that is NDP really makes me wonder.

      1. C. ben-David says:

        I have pity, not contempt, for the NDP, a party that has been in self-destruct mode since the “roadblock revolution,” which Mitchell should have put a violent end to in the same way Abraham Lincoln put a violent end to the American Civil War.

        As for Gonsalves, no objective observer — which I pride myself in being partly because I am not a permanent resident of SVG — could not but admirer his political acumen, yet still be opposed to most of his policies. This is why he is probably the most respected leader in the region.

    3. C ben, in the first sentence Friday says it is complex. How can you say that it is MORE complex than Friday implies when he IS saying it is complex and not simple?

  3. As if our poor downtrodden masses didn’t have enough to worry about, now we have Godwin Friday stigmatizing them as criminals when the biggest crooks and scamps in our society are members of the economic elite.

    1. But ben, aren’t you a member of the elite and as such a member of the economic elite, aren’t you one of them, and so is DREG’s and the dynasty.

      1. C. ben-David says:

        Guilty as charged for being equivalent to the upper 10 percent of the Vincentian population in terms of earning power because my 2017 overseas retirement after-tax income was nearly EC$ 240,000, a pittance compared to many of our business and professional people who make far more than this but refuse to pay what they owe in taxes.

        But I am not a crook though many elite people who rob the treasury every year by not paying their fair share of taxes but receive no penalty for not doing so certainly are crooks and scamps and thieves.

  4. Friday is 100% right on everything he says here. His main problem is that the majority of Vincentians including those with high educations, have intellects that are very far behind. Those of us that have studied government, crime, history, have noticed that what he says is true. That is why Gonsalves is so very much afraid of him. It would be great if more Vincentians begin to see that Friday understands many topics far better than anyone in the country. Now…All you ULP internet trolls can attack what I have just written but please use facts instead of the normal unsubstantiated false vindictive insults.
    I will be amazed if Kenton even publishes my response on this on this topic.

  5. I don’t always agree with C.Ben-Davideo but in this occasion is is 100 correct. There is less crimes in some countries that are poor There is no correlation between the two. Here in St Vincent the surge in crime is primarily because the criminals feel they can get away with it and the fact also if caught there is no capital punishment such as hanging. The penalty for taking a life is not a big deterrent. Accordingly I agree with C. Ben-David.

  6. Agustus Carr says:

    I am yet to be convince whether or not there is a significant correlation between unemployment and crime or poverty and crime. I think it’s more about choices and not necessarily circumstances. I have seen first hand where there are lots of jobs but persons chose to commit crime as a means of supporting their livelihood. The desire to commit crime have to do with our genetic makeup, choices, laziness, greed and learn behaviours.

    My views are based purely on practical observations and interactions with criminals. I have seen many persons with descent paying jobs turn to a life of crime. When asked why you give up work for a life of crime, some will say it takes me a few days to earn the amount of money if I were to do crime as oppose to working for a month’s salary. Others will say you have to work too hard to earn a few dollars. This explains why so many turn to robbery, pradial larceny, drug trafficking and cultivation, and arms trafficking.

    1. Of course there is a relationship between poverty and crime. This has been known for thousands of years. I do not understand that anyone on this site can question that fact. Maybe it is because I have an advantge in that I studied and worked in the field for a portion of my life. Maybe people should read more literature, such as Robin Hood or maybe see a few Charlie Chaplin movies. It is not to say that all poor are criminals and all rich abide by the law, but certainly societies that are high in poverty have more crime than societies that are wealthy and productive. Walk through the slums in Brazil some night and tell me if you are then able to make up your mind, if you are still alive

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