While police have already started tagging firearms in an attempt to help stamp out smuggling, Commissioner Darwin Dottin says more legislation may be necessary to do the same with privately owned weapons.
The commissioner was speaking at yesterday’s passing out parade for the newest regional cops at the Regional Police Training Centre. He noted that human trafficking and the smuggling of firearms were two of the more contemporary crimes facing police.
The smuggling of arms and their use in crime, he said, was a “serious law enforcement problem”, adding that a number of homicides and other violent crimes in the Caribbean were linked to the use of firearms.
“In our country the experience this year is that two per cent of reported crime involves the use of firearms. I have no desire to make comparisons with the experience of our neighbours.”
The commissioner went on to reassure Barbadians that the police would continue to work to address this form of crime, even while commending the Anti-Gun Unit for the work of its personnel.
What was necessary now however, Dottin added, was to address the licensing of firearms.
“During the last year it became apparent that there were serious weaknesses in our licensing of firearms for private use. Corrective action has since been taken to strengthen our oversight and administrative process to prevent infelicities. Criminal cases have been brought against persons for breaches of the firearms legislation,” he said.
Dottin added: “I can also announce that we are embarking on initiatives to mark all legally held firearms in the country. This will assist us in tracing firearms use in the commission of crimes. We have begun to mark those held by the security forces. With respect to privately held firearms, this may require appropriate legislation.”
The Organisation of American States and the Government of Canada, he said, were also lending the force additional technical support to assist in investigating firearm related crimes.
“Matters of crime and security continue to feature prominently in national and international discourse as well as in the academic community. A Caribbean minister of government was recently quoted as saying that apart from the economy, crime and security was the most compelling problem.
“In this context, I am requesting the academic staff here at the Police Training Centre to provide opportunities for mid ranking and senior officers to discuss the strategic and contemporary issues in law enforcement,” he stated. (LB)