Former head of the National Council of Substance Abuse (NCSA), Yolande Forde, says she does not agree with those who suggest that the impending layoffs in the public service will lead to an upsurge in crime.
Forde, who officially parted company with the NCSA on January 9 told Barbados TODAY that because a person was unemployed did not make him or her a criminal.
“As a criminologist, I would say that people make choices in life. Because a person does not have a legitimate source of income immediately at their disposal does not turn them into a criminal. In my opinion, there is a lot more that goes into a person engaging in certain behaviours other than external stimuli. A part of my training taught me very early, yes, there is something called an external policeman, but there is also your internal policeman which is your conscience and by that you must be guided,” she said.
General secretary of the Barbados Workers Union, Sir Roy Trotman, has been among prominent voices sounding the alarm that an increase in crime could follow if Government goes ahead and institutes its plan to send home over 3,000 public servants by the end of March. But while making it clear that she was not responding directly to Sir Roy, Forde said that on account of her training as a criminologist, she was satisfied that layoffs would not necessary mean an increase in the crime rate.
The criminologist argued that the absence of an income does not epitomize an individual’s behaviour to engage in the acquisition of money, using the “by any means necessary” principle. She said it was important that people use their moral compass.
“The same way that you can think about breaking into somebody’s house or choking or robbing somebody, you could probably turn your hand to wash cars, bake cakes, offer your services to someone who would take you on in some form or fashion.”
She also noted that it was necessary that the country as a whole reviewed the way in which young people were socialized and what morals, values and principles were being passed on to them “so that when they meet adversity, they can deal with that adversity in a positive way”.
She said that one of the things “we have to place a lot of emphasis on in our society and in our training of our children, is in this life, you will have tribulation”.
“A person’s behaviour is informed by their thinking. I want to see the person that challenges that. It is depending on how you are trained, how you are brought up, how you are socialized to think and your thinking is going to drive the choices you make.
“You are going to tell me that every time adversity comes your way you are going to make poor choices. You can’t do that; you still have to make intelligent choices. All of your actions have consequences,” said Forde.
Forde said that as her three-year contract which started in January 2011 had ended, she was eyeing new opportunities in her area of training as a criminologist for the past 22 years.
“I am returning to my profession which allows me to operate in a broader spectrum which also includes specializations and policy initiatives in the area of border security, crime reduction strategies and correctional reform. I will be able to spread my wings in a way that I could not have really done in my capacity as manager of NCSA,” she said.
Meanwhile, the former manager reported that she was pleased with her performance as the organization’s leader, as during her tenure she had achieved the first ever strategic plan to guide the organization over the next four years, the Barbados Anti-Drug Plan which is a comprehensive road map to drive future drug projects and she also laid the ground work for a Drug Treatment Court slated to be established in Barbados in a matter of weeks.
“I think there needs to be a critical examination of what we are doing and how we are doing it simply because when the NCSA was established 14 years ago, we would have been in a completely different place in terms of technological advancement. In the technological world things become obsolete within four to six months; therefore, obviously if you are talking a 14-year period, you can’t really be doing the same thing 14 years later.
“For example, we are still doing a lot of print material, a lot of the people that we wish to reach, a lot of our vulnerable youth, are really not interested in sourcing their information off of a piece of paper as they lived in a virtual world, communicating through Facebook and other technology based applications,” she said, giving a brief insight on her outlook for the council.
Betty Hunte will take up the post of acting manager of the NCSA.