Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Lashley wants police outposts

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Bring back police outposts in urban communities or face losing a lot more young people to crime, warns former Minister of Social Transformation Hamilton Lashley.
The Member of Parliament for St Michael East called community policing one of the most successful programmes ever embarked on by the Royal Barbados Police Force and said he remained shocked it had not been revisited, with so many young Barbadian males on the block searching for direction.
“I honestly believe a police community outpost should be placed in every urban village in Barbados, and also in quite a few of the rural villages,” Lashley told the SATURDAY SUN in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “I still don’t understand why the Royal Barbados Police Force has made a shift from community policing.
“When it was first introduced, the construction of outposts and giving the officers there opportunities to meet, talk and mentor the young people actually made some of the communities virtually crime-free.
“That trust is needed again. These young people can trust the police if community policing is done the right way,” Lashley argued.
 
Still on the mend after breaking his arm in a serious vehicular accident last month, the often outspoken minister said community policing should never have been removed or reduced simply because crime figures started to go down.
“The young people of Barbados always need something positive in their ears. It should still be coming from those dedicated police officers who did it 20 years ago,” Lashley said.
He noted that in light of the social deviance and criminal behaviour being seen again, it was critical that serious crime prevention policies be reintroduced by the force’s community policing department.
“I don’t want to create a police state in Barbados, but the youth out there need mentors and I think the Police Force is a good place to start. We need to see police in our communities communicating with our young people.”
According to Lashley, a completely new way to get through to young people is now on the cards through the Barbados Youth Action Programme scheduled to start before year-end.
The programme will be seeking to connect with Barbadians aged 15 to 31 in a new way, using a model that was extremely successful in Bangkok, Thailand, which had a serious problem with gang behaviour.
“We want to give these young people hope. We want to put them on TV, hear what they have to say, see what they have to offer. We believe they have a lot to offer,” Lashley added.
The former minister noted that too many Barbadians who were successful in life had left their communities stranded. He also stated that retired professionals such as teachers, police and accountants needed to be brought back into mainstream communities to help direct young people.
“There are so many Barbadians at home simply collecting pension cheques, but who have a world of knowledge to be shared. That knowledge can be utilised and passed on to our young people,” Lashley concluded.

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