The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), on Wednesday, made yet another call for the government to address what it described as “the crime crisis” in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“For some time, the worsening crime situation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has enveloped the nation in a climate of fear that is contributing to a lack of confidence in law enforcement,” the NDP said.
The party said that having great concern about the effect of “this crime crisis” on the development of the nation, it has called on the Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Ralph Gonsalves, to address the nation on his government’s plan to deal with “this urgent crime problem”.
“In the meantime, homicides continue unabated with the killing of Rhodesha Bailey and Fitzgerald Gregory Morris on October 26, and Shania Johnson a 19-year old mother, who was found dead at Akers on November 4. Most recently, we have learnt of the shooting death of Lennox John of Lowmans Leeward. The killing of Lennox John brings the homicide count to 31. The Vincentian people can see no light at the end of this tunnel of murder, rape and other violent crimes,” the NDP said.
The Police Public Relations Department, in its regular bulletin on Wednesday, said John’s death brought the homicide count for this year to 30.
The NDP said the responses from Gonsalves and members of his Unity Labour Party government “have tended towards selective and partial theories of the causation of crime and warning to citizens to stay out of the way of criminals.
“The Government continues to be out of touch with the genuine fears of the people. By reducing the causes of these violent crimes to drunken brawls or love relationships gone bad, the government fuels fear and fails our people.
“The Minister of National Security, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, contrary to his promise to be tough on crime and the causes of crime, has done little to fight crime and its causes. It would appear that the ULP government is more concerned with matters external to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and has lost touch with the reality of the Vincentian people’s lives,” the NDP said.
The party said it believes that a government’s first responsibly is to guarantee its citizens a safe society in which all rights and freedoms are not only guaranteed but also protected.
“The NDP recognises that a comprehensive approach is required to address crime.”
The party said it would strengthen the institutions of justice “and raise their legitimacy among the Vincentian people such that they will once again be able to trust the system to work for all, regardless of racial, ethnic, political, social or economic standing.
“In particular, we will support such organs as crime stoppers anonymous, youth organisations and spiritual development programmes. We will also strengthen the family as the main socialising institution and emphasise the role of parents in the development of children, using values-based teachings and being positive role models.
“We will also complement the existing Liberty Lodge Boys Training School with a similar female institution and introduce truancy officers as deemed appropriate in support of compulsory education.”
The NDP said that in the meantime, it urges Vincentians to be a united and caring society.
“We again encourage anyone with information that might assist the police in their investigations to provide it to the police. Further, the NDP reiterates its call for the police to redouble their efforts to bring all perpetrators to justice,” the party said.