Arrest the growing gang culture in Barbados before it is to late.
That advice from Roman Catholic Bishop of Barbados, Reverend Dr Charles Jason Gordon to law enforcement authorities, just hours before a violent stabbing incident claimed the life of a 37-year-old Antonio Stanford in a Black Rock, St Michael community.
In an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY Bishop Gordon said that officials must ensure that crime does not get to the stage that it cannot be reined in.
Comparing Barbados to Trinidad, he pointed out that the gang culture was still in the infancy stage, adding that little “cliques” were popping up around the island that must be disbanded now.
“I would not say that there is really a big gang culture but there is the beginning of it and once you start having little cliques being formed, those cliques very quickly turn into an organized group.”
“If they get a little drug trade going with the cliques, then what then happens is that it becomes a gang. Once that happens, it is much more difficult to deal with it, than a clique.”
“So once crime starts to become organized around blocks, around territories and this block can’t go to this block, once that starts you have to stop it very early, otherwise the process of stopping it is so difficult that it requires a huge amount of resources,” he said.
The Trinidadian-born Bishop said neighbouring Port of Spain faced the same challenge.
“Trinidad has incredible resources and they cannot stop it [gang violence] as yet.”
“Crime is an insidious problem that creeps into a civilization,” he warned. However, he said it was how the situation was handled that would bring about success.
“I’ve worked with gangs, I’ve worked with gang leaders, I’ve worked with people who are calling murders and people who were disrupting society and communities and I understand what happens when you get to that stage.”
Bishop Gordon stressed, “You can’t be doing enough until you ensure that you never get to that stage, and to never get to that stage, you have to do a number of different things.”
So how can Government stop the crime wave?
“Well the first thing we have to do is, we have to look at the social services that those communities receive. I would say that any community that is high crime has to receive far more social services than other communities.”
Focus, the Bishop says, must also be placed on the nation’s youth before they reached the age of puberty.
“. . . because we have too many angry and frustrated children in Barbados. Part of it is the social welfare pieces are drying up and we have to stop the would-be criminals before they reach puberty and even during puberty to get them to turn to positive activity.”
On this worrying issue he said all hands must be on deck.
“I’m saying that we have to get a handle on it and we have to do so quickly. Part of that is by detection of drug crime and they [the police] are really clamping down deeply on the drug crime and I know that a lot is going on here with that and the detection rate is much better here sometimes than it is in Trinidad; that at least is a very positive sign,” Gordon said.