A former Jamaican court prosecutor is calling on Barbadian authorities to quickly arrest seemingly rising levels of crime before the situation gets out of hand and puts the country at risk of ending up like some of its Caribbean neighbours.
Expressing concern about the level of crime here, Sasha Shillingford, who worked in the Jamaican criminal court system for some time, told Barbados TODAY that placing greater emphasis on preventative measures was one way to tackle the issue.
She pointed out that fighting crime was not only the work of the Royal Barbados Police Force.
“I think we need to look at our legislation and make sure firstly that when matters reach the court that we have the right types of punishment, that we are addressing the crime from maybe the source,” said Shillingford, who now works in corporate law here.
“So if it is drug-related crime, maybe we need to ensure that people are getting rehabilitated. Basically that the punishment is really appropriate for the crimes, and that where hard punishment needs to be handed down, that it is being handed down.”
Shillingford also proposed: “As a society, we need to maybe look more at what happens before things reach the court because a lot of the time, it is kind of too late at that point. People are already going down a criminal path and they will either continue to do that or they will end up in jail for long periods of time.”
“So it is about us, as a society, coming together and trying to understand the issues and trying to address them from a deterrence point of view versus the punishment side of things. I would like to see more of that and it is for everyone in the community to help in that area, and focus a lot on the youth.
“We really have to make sure that we address these things before the youth become offenders, to protect our youth and make sure they are getting what they need in society so they don’t turn to crime,” she said.
Describing the criminal environment in Jamaica as volatile, Shillingford cautioned that it was important that Barbados take stock of its own situation now in order to avoid it getting worse.
“I am no expert on the area but . . . it is very concerning. There has been an upsurge in the last year or so, which is very worrying for Barbados, and having lived in Jamaica, they would not have always had the society they had, which is a very violent society.
“It had to start somewhere. They have to have come from some time where it was very quiet and there was very little crime and it slowly built. We don’t want to end up in a situation where it is too far-gone. So we really need to take serious heed of what is happening now,” the lawyer advised.