The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) on Monday called on the Minister of National Security, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to address the nation on what it described as “the worsening crime situation” in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The NDP’s call came in a press statement, three days after Opposition Leader and NDP president, Godwin Friday, said on Hot FM that the police need to do more to frame the narrative after a crime that captures the attention of the nation.
In Monday’s statement, the NDP noted that the 21st homicide this year was the death of 48-year-old security guard, Brenda Layne, who died after being stabbed in the neck in Kingstown on Aug. 22.
“Almost daily, Vincentians are waking up to reports of crimes of one kind or another, committed in our beautiful country.
“Crime and violence now appear to be the only constant on the various radio stations and in the front pages of the print media, pointing to the sad reality that today, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is undoubtedly in crisis,” the party said.
The NDP’s statement said that the continuous reports of crimes, including shootings, homicides, attempted homicides, wounding, burglary, praedial larceny, abduction, rapes and other sexual offences against women and young girls, are making Vincentians fearful and insecure.
“The public has lost confidence in the capacity of our security forces to bring crime under control. They are disenchanted with the justice system to the point where some communities and individuals are now taking matters into their own hands through vigilante-type activities.
“There seems to be no end to this crisis. In all of this, the Minister of National Security and the ULP (Unity Labour Party) regime have offered no discernible, acceptable response to this crisis.”
The NDP said it was calling on the Minister of National Security “to formally address the nation on government’s plans to deal with the worsening crime situation in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“In the meantime, the NDP urges the Vincentian public to remain vigilant and look out for each other. It is only through strong, united, caring communities can we address this crisis of crime and violence,” the NDP said.
The party implored anyone with information that might assist the police in their investigations to provide it to the police.
The NDP further called on the police to redouble their efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Meanwhile, in his radio appearance on Thursday, the NDP president said that when a serious crime occurs, there are certain steps that the police should take.
“The police can control the narrative by putting out a statement as quickly as possible and then you have a responsible approach. You then can go to that as a source of information and use that the primary source, rather than taking something down from social media, which would tend to sensationalise stuff. It’s not really news. It is just the reporting of an incident and you don’t really have any background to it,” Friday said.
The opposition leader said that this is the approach of police in most countries.
“There is a serious incident, the police come out and they make a statement, they give you the information that they have, they reassure the public that we are on top of things, we have certain information and we’re going to proceed in this way.
“That does two things: … it helps to shape the narrative, but it also gives the public some confidence that the police are in charge, that they are doing things on top. Not in some kind of episodic statement that is made at some point way down the road…” Friday said.