A study of gun crimes and the extent and nature of gun violence in Barbados from 2010 to the present is to be undertaken by the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit (CJRPU).
Noting that the study will be conducted during this financial year and into the 2016/2017 financial year, Director of the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit Cheryl Willoughby said the primary aim of the study was to determine the extent of the problem on the island and seek ways to address it.
“We will be specifically looking to our research to identify and categorise the number of incidents of gun violence in Barbados over a five year period,” she said.
She explained that Barbados could not wait until the problem got out of hand before something was done about the situation, and therefore a strategic, scientific approach was needed to determine “who, what, where, when and why” such crimes were taking place.
Willoughby said the study would seek to identify the number of guns and ammunition found and seized by police; the geographical pool of the gun violence to determine whether it was happening in rural or urban Barbados; and the weapon of choice being used in burglaries and to commit other criminal offences over the last five years.
It will also focus on perpetrators of crimes to determine whether or not they knew the victim; if there were predatory crimes (if persons were actually sitting and waiting and ambushing people); or whether or not the incidents were related to some sort of dispute and persons knew each other and were trying to resolve a conflict by using such levels of violence.
In addition, it will also examine the profiles of legitimate gun dealers in Barbados to see whether or not guns are entering the island through legitimate dealers, or coming into the island through other means.
“We will be looking to trace these guns in terms of serial numbers, and we will be really looking at persons who are convicted of gun-related offences,” Willoughby said.
She explained this would be done through three case studies, which would examine the profile of persons and the demographics of those convicted for a crime.
“After we have garnered all the information that we need from the study, we would be able to present it to the Attorney General because he has the responsibility to look at policy and legislation to address issues coming out of our research,” she noted.
The Director further stated that the CJRPU was also looking at programmes within the school system and communities to educate young people about guns and violent crimes and how to avoid becoming involved.
“The Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit has started a “No Witness, No Justice Programme” within the schools. The objective of this is for young people to get an idea of the criminal justice system, and to recognise the importance of reporting crimes to the police,” Willoughby explained.
She stressed that it was important for citizens to recognise that they had a civic responsibility to report incidents of violence to the police. The Director urged persons to realise that while it may not be their problem today, it could impact their families or neighbourhoods at a later date.
“It is important to be proactive and cooperate with the police and report matters when they come to your attention. …We cannot do it alone. We need every single Barbadian working to make this country a better place,” she insisted.