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Senior police officers interact with people in Rose Place on Jan. 26, 2023, as part of the constabulary's community outreach programme. (Photo: Facebook?RSVG Police Force)
Senior police officers interact with people in Rose Place on Jan. 26, 2023, as part of the constabulary’s community outreach programme. (Photo: Facebook?RSVG Police Force)
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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has warned that poor policing can give criminals space in which to operate.

“I want to emphasize that the police do not cause crimes but suboptimal policing or poor policing can provide more space for criminals,” he said on Saturday in a joint video statement with Commissioner of Police, Colin John.

Gonsalves, who is also minister of national security, and John addressed the nation via a video statement on the Facebook page of the state-owned Agency for Public Information, after a meeting between the prime minister and the top brass of the police force.

“And the important thing is for the police force to be so organised and perform and operate in a manner as to narrow the space to the furthest point practicable in relation to the criminals,” Gonsalves said.

“That criminals don’t have the space to function, the gunmen don’t have the space to function.”

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He was speaking a day after SVG recorded its ninth homicide this year, with the death of Purlinea Greaves, of Dorsetshire Hill, who was shot in the head on her way home on Thursday night.

Greaves became the second woman and the third person in the country to be killed in just over a week in this country, where two of the nine homicides resulted from police shootings in the line of duty.

“And, of course, we rely on the society’s, ordinary people’s support and cooperation and, of course, for the judicial system to deliver justice and for us to have a country respecting law and order and for St. Vincent and the Grenadines to maintain its reputation as being a place which is safe and secure,” Gonsalves said.

Ralph Gonsalves Colin John
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, right, and Commissioner of Police Colin John speaking in the statement posted by the API on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023.

The prime minister said there are criminal challenges in every society.

“We have to make sure that any such challenges are kept to the most minimal level, the level of which right-thinking persons may say, ‘Well, something there is wrong but we’re very safe.’

“In other words, people have a sense as to when they’re safe and when they’re not safe. And the police have to build that confidence more and more through its day-to-day work and actions.”

He said different crimes have different causes and impulses, “but it is generally recognised that if you have good family upbringing, if you have solid values being inculcated in the young in the home, in the schools, in the churches, in the communities; young people, especially young males take advantage of all the opportunities which are available, that they will not be tempted by greed or any other weakness to go towards criminal activity”.

Gonsalves spoke about “the guns and bullets coming in from the United States of America”, adding that the commissioner of police has a meeting lined up with the comptroller of Customs and the chief executive officer of the Argyle International Airport.

“Naturally, the Coast Guard is very much involved in this too. So, there’s a whole gamut of these issues, which we talked about, but we focused today largely on policing and how the space can be narrowed in relation to the criminals,” he said.

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