This island’s police chief has put his finger on possible reasons for a disturbing influx of illegal guns and their easy availability, two key factors behind a rise in firearm-related burglaries during the first quarter of the year.
Following a special meeting held today with members of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF), acting Commissioner Tyrone Griffith blamed the ease with which pleasure boats and fishing vessels can come and go without proper checks. He also cited a need for greater collaboration between the police and Customs.
“Our borders are extremely porous. . . our ports,” he told Barbados TODAY. “Obviously there is need for greater collaboration at our ports in terms of police and Customs. There is need for much greater collaboration. But generally, the ports are porous.”
The top cop was critical of the ease with which fishing boats can come and go and the lack of adequate checks of pleasure yachts which dock at Port St Charles and Port Ferdinand in St Peter. “. . .that scrutiny is not what it ought to be,” he said.
“[Guns] are coming in all forms and fashion. By courier, you see it coming in television sets, both at air and sea ports. In car parts. Those things,” the acting commissioner complained.
Asked if he could put his finger on what really needs to be done to deal with the problem, Griffith replied: “We are tackling it from the point of view of checks. We are relying heavily on intelligence and we are also doing appropriate checks of vehicles and so forth. . . . We are trying to work closely with Customs and Immigration, but we obviously need far better collaboration there.”
The police chief suggested that the Customs Department change its focus as another means of assisting in the fight against firearm imports. “We need to have Customs thinking more about enforcement,” he said.
Griffith mentioned random vehicle checks as another measure the Force had implemented in its efforts to find illegal guns. “That is ongoing. There are checks as we speak, daily. There are checks and we also are relying heavily on intelligence. We are getting intelligence and we are working with that intelligence to go after individuals,”he said.