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.
“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.