Thursday, April 18, 2024

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Unite against crime


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LET ME BEGIN by commending our Defence Force, specifically the Coast Guard, for the admirable work they carried out in the Dominica rescue effort. It’s good to see their training being put to practical use. Let’s hope all Barbadians will do their part in whatever way possible to assist Dominicans at this time. True, we’re experiencing difficulties ourselves, but none to compare with what Dominica is going through.

While Dominica’s problem was caused by forces outside its control, our problems, more often than not, are man-made. In spite of all the statistics being quoted, the fact is that crime, gun violence, domestic and child abuse have got completely out of hand and must be dealt with as a matter of urgency. Of course, Government can’t do it all. We as citizens must be vigilant and help the police and other agencies like Crime Stoppers however we can to prevent or solve these crimes.

In fact, there have been several cases where people I know have intervened and prevented or interrupted crimes on locals and visitors. There is even something called a citizen’s arrest, but whether anyone would risk such action these days is questionable.

On the other hand, we expect our Government agencies to be less bureaucratic and act promptly, reasonably and with discretion to bring about the required result. It can happen only when the will is there. We saw recently where a gentleman, after fighting to gain custody of his reportedly abused children for six years, seemed to be able to achieve an emergency sitting of the High Court and a name change for his children relatively quickly. This shouldn’t happen when crisis levels have been reached.

Regarding that issue, I see that Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett had high praise for the Child Care Board, saying it’s an excellent agency and that “it’s just in one area we’re falling a little short”. In light of recent events, he would have done himself a favour by taking a leaf out of Prime Minister Stuart’s book and not saying anything.

I must admit that sometimes I find it difficult to understand how the police operate, seeing that we’re supposed to have limited resources in that area. A few months ago, a visiting businessman was involved in a slight accident in a restaurant parking lot. Although there was a police jeep going through the drive-thru, it was apparently not possible for those officers to deal with the accident. The visitor had to call the department and wait for quite some time until other officers arrived. Isn’t that a waste of time/resources?

That’s why I was so surprised and pleased to see last week that an officer who witnessed a vehicular accident, actually stopped and dealt with it although he was not attached to the station responsible for the area. So it is possible to put the bureaucracy aside.

We expect our police to be proactive. The police department has strenuously denied the report that an off-duty officer travelling on a Transport Board bus didn’t respond when a scuffle between two people (which ended in a death) was drawn to his attention by the bus driver. Although it’s said that “a lie will make its way around the world before the truth has time to put on its shoes”, there is also the saying that “where there’s smoke there’s fire”.

As far as I’m aware we haven’t heard a denial from the Transport Board. If there’s indeed any truth to the story, I would say that the bus driver himself should have intervened by just stopping the bus and sounding the horn loudly which would no doubt have distracted the offender. That’s what being our brother’s keeper is all about. I would hate to think that “putting some licks in a woman” has become so accepted that we can turn a blind eye and claim it’s none of our business.

Happily, it would appear that both political parties are united in the concern about the upsurge in gun and domestic violence. One Government senator went so far as to declare that even if it means losing the government, the present administration has to take a firm stand on the gun violence and was adamant that in this fight against crime, “the tail must not be allowed to wag the dog”. My sentiments exactly.

• Dr Frances Chandler is a former Independent senator. Email


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