Commissioner of Police Colin John has praised the efforts of his officers and members of the public for a lower crime rate so far this year.
“I just want to say that, as a police force, we have seen a lot of positives and we have a lot to give God thanks for; we have a lot to praise the citizens of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for,” he told iWitness News on Tuesday.
“We have seen a general decrease in crimes and homicides,” John said.
So far, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has registered 11 homicides, eight of which have been classified as murders.
John said that of those eight, police have arrested and charged persons in six cases.
This compares to 18 murders at this time last year, he said.
“We realise that we cannot rest on our laurels and we have to be as proactive as possible. We are also cognisant of the fact that it can go from zero to a hundred within a matter of minutes, so we always have to stay switched on and make sure that we are as proactive as possible as an organisation,” the police chief told iWitness News.
He said that because of the circumstances surrounding three of the homicides this year, the Office of the DPP has instructed the police not to charge anyone at this point.
The police chief said the DPP’s office may give instructions at a later date on whether to conduct a coroner’s inquest into those deaths.
John was pleased with the low levels of crime during Vincy Mas 2019.
“Generally, things were positive,” he said, adding that there was no major incident.
John said there were a few cases of assault occasioning bodily harm and wounding. However, there was a significant decrease in the number of car break-ins and damage to property as a result of persons trying to burglarise vehicles.
He said this can be attributed to the fact that there were 79 recruits that passed out at that time and they flooded the streets with those officers.
The police paid special attention to areas where those types of crime are common and increased police presence in those areas.
“Also, persons who we know as persons who would commit those offences, like break into persons’ cars, once we see them loitering around there, the police were proactive, in terms of – we took them into custody and arrested them on suspicion and made some inquiries and then released them subsequently,” John said.
He said there has also been a decrease in robberies, adding that one of the reasons is that some of the persons who have a history of this crime are in prisons.
“I just want to thank the other arms of the law enforcement system for their efforts. While bail is a right, we have to also be conscious about the guidelines as regards granting bail and some of the persons would be on bail and commit a similar offence. That would be a ground for objecting to bail, and, in some cases, the magistrate or the judge would accept that argument by the prosecutor and refuse the person bail.”
The police chief said that morale in the force is very high.
“I, as commissioner, try to treat everyone with respect and give persons their just recompense for their effort. I, as commissioner, as well, I think I am quite approachable and accommodative to all members of the organisation,” he said.
The police chief also said he has a good support staff in terms of the immediate senior persons.
“These positives and the fact that the public is very supportive and very cooperative. We have received certain assistance from the public and corporate St. Vincent and the Grenadines and I just want to use this opportunity to thank them for what they are doing for the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, by extension,” he said.
John said that the Tradewinds military exercise which was held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in June was regarded a success by all parties, local and foreign.
He said he went to a Tradewinds debriefing in Miami and they were in high praise of SVG and the way in which the country conducted business throughout the exercise.
“We were even encouraged to try and host the Tradewinds exercise as soon as it becomes available, which would be probably 2022 or 2023. So it is something that we are looking at. We would not make any commitment to that at this point.”