Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves should do something about crime in St. Vincent and the Grenadines rather than commenting on the New Democratic Party’s efforts to highlight the problem.
That was the view expressed by opposition Leader Godwin Friday on Boom FM on Tuesday when asked to comment about Gonsalves being dismissive of the walks against high crime and joblessness that Friday led for the last two Saturdays.
“Instead of whining about it, he should try to do something about it,” Friday said, one day after the prime minister spoke on the same radio programme.
The opposition leader said that Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security, has not acknowledged a crime problem in SVG.
Friday was speaking within the context of the public discussion after two masked men robbed Reisha Twana Browne-Caesar, 39, wife of Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar outside her house in Cedars on about 9 p.m. Saturday night.
Friday said acknowledging a problem is important to resolving it.
“And the point is, that you can’t say that you are going to seek solutions, unless you are going to do it secretly, which does not assure anybody if you don’t admit that you have a problem.”
He said a lot of people in SVG know that the nation has a problem with crime “but our prime minister doesn’t.
“The people in the country are saying so. We are in touch with that feeling with the people and for me, personally, I am thinking, ‘Why is it that the government or the leader of the country is not acknowledging there is a problem?’”
Friday said that fighting crime in SVG needs a complete response from the society, adding that the police alone cannot do it.
“They have to have the cooperation from the people. They need to know that they are working for the people and not against the people so that they can have effective community policing so that when there are incidences of crime, that you come forward as witness or when there is information that something is about to happen, that they feel that they can trust the police to go to them and try to provide solutions before the things happens.
“It takes an entire societal approach, but, first of all, you have, in government, a prime minister who said when he was in opposition that he will be tough on crime and the causes of crime that he has all the solutions to these problems and, in government, we are calling on him to produce these solutions.
“Because you can’t tell me you are having all kinds of analysis about, ‘Oh, we were in the teens and we are somewhere in the 20s now and we seem to have moderated in the 30s’ — all kinds of almost philosophical explanation when, in reality, we had 40 homicides last year in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And we seem to have gotten used to the idea, he seems to want to get us used to the idea that that is normal.”
The opposition leader said the solution to fighting crime in SVG includes resourcing the police to respond immediately when there is a crime and also in preventing crimes.
“There are some police stations where the phone doesn’t work, where you don’t have transportation to get to a scene where somebody is reporting something.”
He said there are many high-profile cases and many others, including burglary, drug offences, and praedial larceny that have gone unsolved.
“Our headquarters at the NDP has been broken into so many times, you report it and you basically say you have done your duty and they have done theirs, that is, by listening to you, but you get no resolution.”
The opposition leader said the greatest deterrent is the certainty of apprehension and conviction.
“… and in our system we don’t have that now. We have a situation where the police seem to be overworked or that they are understaffed or they just simply don’t have the tools to do their job.
“And some of them, quite frankly, they are incompetent. But that is where you have to have proper management of the police force and you put the priorities where they are required to go and without security, you can’t have development in the country,” Friday said.