Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, on Monday, rejected a claim by the parliamentary opposition that criminals have taken over the country.

He was responding during a press conference to statements by Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday, and to an assertion at a New Democratic Party press conference two weeks earlier.

Friday said that while the ULP came to office promising to be tough on crime, criminals seems to have taken over the country.

Gonsalves said:

“Could anybody in heaven’s name tell me where is he living? A man can give you two sentences and proceed therefrom with such barefaced lies? Criminals seem to have taken over the country?

“There is crime. But the criminals have taken over this country? He living in a different St. Vincent than most people? There is crime and we have to stamp out the crime. You know it is amazing.”

The prime minister, who is also minister of National Security, noted that for the 10 weeks between April and the middle of June, there was no homicide in SVG.

The homicide count for this year now stands at 18.

Gonsalves told the media that there are various reasons for homicide, adding that he doesn’t have to go through all of them.

Quoting’s Friday’s press statement, Gonsalves said that the opposition have lied about his government’s response to crime.

“And then this whopper, ‘the government has never done anything to show that they are tough on crime’.

“All the changes in legislation to toughen up against crime? What we have done in respect of the physical facilities for the police, the increase in the number of police men, the improvement in their condition of work their training …”

Gonsalves, who returned to St. Vincent on Saturday after a four-day official visit to Japan, said that he worked through Sunday night and his first meeting on Monday was with the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police.

“I was away so I want o find out, just like how I meet the deputy prime minister, I meet — I take my work seriously. I joke, I have fun and all the rest of it, but I take my work seriously.”

He said the police force is about to recruit about 60 more police officers.

The prime minister further told the media that from 2017 to the end of May, over 150 persons who have qualifications of seven CXC subjects or more and associate degrees have applied to join the police force.

“That is the quality of the persons that they have to interview…”

There are 800 police officers, about 250 more than in 2001 when his government came to office, the prime minister said.

“The training of the police is beyond what it was before,” he said, adding that the entry salary for a police officer is about $1,800 a month, compared to EC$800, when his government came to office 17 years ago.

“What is Friday talking about? Fighting crime is personnel, it is technology, it is facilities, it’s the legal framework; we have set up the National Prosecution Service.

“I mean, this is the man who wants my job? The government has never done anything to show they are tough on crime? And in all his long rigmarole, he says nothing what he would do different and better,” Gonsalves said.

13 replies on “PM rejects claim that criminals have taken over SVG”

  1. High government officials and others who could afford round the clock security personnel and guards at their residences would feel safer than the rest of the population. These people may not fully understand the fear that permeates the rest of society. When they call, the police finds transportation and responds immediately.

  2. “… seven CXC subjects or more and associate degrees …” is no prerequisite for being a competent police officers since the content of this education and the resulting outcomes in SVG, as in many Western nations, has declined so much over the decades in the name of “mass education” — education for the masses.

    Still, the PM and his government should not be faulted for problems that originate from and are reinforced by poor parenting, absentee fathers, low community solidarity, the upholding of criminal activity in the form of the acceptance and purchase of stolen goods, gang membership as a growing means of personal actualization, and many other local levels factors as well.

    There is a way to reduce crime to near zero levels but harsh and unconstitutional police measures needed to do so would be resisted by the electorate.

    1. M.Y. Muhammad says:

      I don’t always voice my disagreement to your argumentation, but I’ll voice my agreement on THIS one.

    2. We can employ harsh constitutional measures. A broad national curfews or curfews in high crime ridden areas are harsh,. Combine these with a state of emergency and expand police powers to arrest and hold criminals is harsh, Mandatory 10 year jail sentence for gun possession and 20 years for using it to commit a crime are harsh. But they are constitutional. And the NDP and perhaps half of the electorate would attack the govt for employing these harsh measures,

  3. they may not have taken over yet but they are well on their way if things continue as is ………..serious new measures needs to be put in place including technology and from the judicial /correctional branch ……18 murders are already one too many .

  4. Mr. Friday was using what is called a figure of speech, meaning a phrase designed to explain a concept. Mr. PM, how stupid do you think we are? People are complaining about high-crime-figures left and right. The news and media are full of it too. Rape murder, child abuse, petty theft, rampant offenses by minors and so on. I take it that the honorable opposition leader means that the police are overwhelmed.
    Do you really think that a police force of 800 agents is enough? That is probably not enough to even do the administration properly.
    Instead of acknowledging the problem and joining forces to come up with a solution, you play poli-tricks. Personally, I think that you being 20 years in power is a long time for not being able to grow the economy and for creating an economic environment where poor people can thrive. Then the end game: most people are praying to get a chance to leave the island (and, contribute to the economy of some other country).
    and another thing, who should the people blame when public affairs are out of order? Finally, all them man de, who use phrases like: “He refrained from taking action” and not ” he didn’t do it” should have their conscience checked.

    1. In my opinion “r” you make more sense than anyone else leaving comments on this article. Most everyone else think either economics has nothing to do with crime or that the answer is to turn SVG into a police state. They do not think there is a need for more jobs as a way to occupy people’s time. They do not believe that idle hands are the devil’s workshop. They need to go to Venezuela or San Paulo someday to get a real taste of reality of what life without jobs is like in a more extreme situation. No one says that crime will go away when there are more jobs but those that believe more jobs will not be the best way to reduce crime are very stupid people indeed. Thier mission is to get us to keep supporting the failed policy of Ralph Gonsalves.
      C Ben has shown us how bad of an idea the airport was but he knows nothing about crime and society. He has lived a priveledged and protected life so cannot understand how things really are or all the complex reasons why certain people commit crimes. For that reason he fills our minds with misinformation. It really does seem to be true that he talks bad about the ULP but wants us to believe the NDP are far worse when he has no idea what the current leadership of the NDP can accomplish. He just continues to speculate that no matter what that Godwin Friday is worse based on NO FACTS AT ALL.
      C ben cannot give us any facts to support his claim that Friday is worse, none whatsoever!

      He is just a stealth agent of the ULP.

  5. We have two badman / badwoman magistrates in St. Vincent they might not always be consistent with their judgement but on the other hand they have to work with the police give them. Should the police do there jobs properly I have no doubt that these two magistrates would help curb the criminal to a straight and narrow when they impose their judgement.

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