Providing “hope and opportunity” for would be offenders is important in crime prevention.
So also are good community-police relationships and properly equipping law enforcers, says Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday.
“The primary thing that we are focused on, you have to provide hope and opportunity to people. That is the overall environment in which people can succeed by getting through the school system and finding opportunity for constructive employment. Otherwise, as they say, the devil finds work for idle hands,” he told a press conference on Tuesday in Kingstown.
Friday, however, said that there are immediate things that can be addressed in the crime-fighting situation.
“We have talked about, in the past, community policing, making sure that there is that connection between the people being policed and the police officers so that everybody has a stake in dealing with crime. You can’t have a situation where the police are viewed as the enemy and then think that when you go to talk to people they are going to cooperate. That whole approach has to be changed.”
The opposition leader said he has seen where people just don’t cooperate because they feel that police do not behave in a way that encourages them to do so.
He, however, urged the public to cooperate with the police.
Friday also spoke of a need for better training for police officers and professionalising the police force.
“You talk to people who know and they tell you that right now in the police force, there is this feeling that certain people are getting ahead and others are not. And when you feel that you have done what you are supposed to do and you don’t get promoted and others come and they get special allegiance to party in power, somebody close to them, then it saps your initiative.”
Further, he spoke about equipping police officers.
“You can’t have police officers doing their work and when you call them they say they don’t have transport. You know, sometimes, they want to make a phone call, even from a police station, they have to ask to use your cell phone.”
He said that these are basic things that affect how police officers respond.
Friday said there are special types of crimes that need particular expertise to combat and solve.
“We talked of the high profile crimes of murder and so on, but the situation in the agricultural districts where you have praedial larceny is rampant. There are special constables who were created but they don’t seem to have had any impact on the problem. If you are going to deal with the problem, you don’t just create a job for somebody. You make sure that these people are capable and that they do the work and if they don’t that they are replaced so that you deal with the crimes in those areas.”
Friday called for special units to deal with sexual violence
“We know, we have said this in the past, that sexual violence in this country is endemic. It is a disgrace the way in which you go down to the assizes and you look on the door and you see all these lists of sexual offences that have to be prosecuted. So that is something that you have to have special attention being paid to deal with that aspect of crime.”
The opposition leader noted that SVG is a tourism destination and said there has to be a special way of dealing with crimes against yacht and visitors.
He noted that the victims come to the country for short periods and said that if the accused persons are to be prosecuted, it has to be done quickly.
“You have to first find a way to prevent, but when you can’t, have the best possible means of having the prosecution competed in the best possible way so that people don’t come and go and come and go and eventually they don’t come back and the case is dismissed. And sometimes, that happens with very serious offences,” Friday said.