Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite wants to see a reduction in violent crime next year.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY this morning in which he reviewed the past year, Brathwaite identified crime as one of the major challenges his Office faced in 2015.
And without outlining plans to tackle the issue, he said a fall in violent crime was desirable.
“We have had some challenges in terms of violent crime, in particular gun-related crime. That is something that certainly next year I would like to see significantly reduced,” the Attorney General said.
He praised the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) for the “significant number” of crimes that were solved, saying it was a source of pride to him.
However, he maintained his position that, contrary to the public’s perception, the country did not experience a rise in overall crime.
“The biggest challenge is that we have had more gun-related crimes in Barbados [this year]. I maintain my position . . . the overall statistics, we have not seen an escalation in crime beyond our normal numbers. What we have seen is an escalation in gun-related crime. We need to get all actors onboard in trying to stem the flow and use of illegal firearms in this country.”
Brathwaite said the long delay in settling a number of lawsuits against the RBPF adversely affected the administration of the Force.
In October last year, controversy raged over the Police Service Commission’s (PSC) approval of temporary promotions at a time when 15 police officers were contesting a case in the High Court against the PSC for excluding them from promotions two years earlier.
The High Court had also previously ruled against any further appointments or promotions in the Force until the original case was determined.
“We still have the issue in terms of promotions because of that matter before the law courts. If we can get that determined . . . we can move on with the proper administration of the Royal Barbados Police Force. There are three cases before the courts that we would really like to get finalized,” the Attorney General said.
Brathwaite spoke of “significant progress” in the juvenile justice system, revealing that new legislation was coming soon to strengthen the administration of the system.
He also addressed the contentious issue of a backlog of cases that clog up the system and hinder the timely delivery and administration of justice, saying he was optimistic that there would be progress next year in reducing
“The good thing about next year is the fact that we actually start with a picture in terms of knowing what we want to accomplish so we would be able to at the end of the year, we would be able to gauge how well we have done in terms of the number of matters that have been solved by mediation, etcetera,”
Just this week Magistrate Douglas Frederick announced that the backlog was beginning to clear, attributing the progress to improved efforts by the RBPF which led to cases being dealt with in a timelier manner and a mediation programme introduced by Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson.
“The new approach is that with all the pressure that has been put [on the judicial system], what is happening now is that the police seem to be doing a little bit more to get the files together,” Frederick told Barbados TODAY shortly after sitting in the District ‘A’ Magistrates Court.
“They’re a little bit more diligent I think in terms of getting the files, so the backlog is slowly reducing. Plus, with the mediation which the Chief Justice introduced, that has been helping too with the protection orders. So it is easing us a bit.”
Three months ago Sir Marston revealed that steps were being taken to help ease the backlog and to reduce the delay in rendering judicial decisions.
These included the proposed appointment of three new judges, six new judicial assessments, the removal from the computer system of discontinued cases that still registered as active and the abolition of preliminary inquiries.
The head judge said at the time that more than 2,000 cases were still logged as active had in fact been discontinued.