Government’s advisor on social policy Hamilton Lashley has described yesterday’s walk through Brittons Hill by officers of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) as reactionary, preferring instead a community-based crime fighting initiative by Member of Parliament for St Michael West Central James Paul.
Lashley’s criticism of the police effort came during a joint news conference with Paul on Wednesday, one day before RBPF officers walked through the St Michael community, where they heard residents’ complaints about an influx of drugs and firearms, and calls for more police surveillance.
In endorsing the Paul programme, the former Minister of Social Transformation stopped just short of dismissing the walk-through as a waste of time.
“At the end of the walk, you walk in, you walk out,” Lashley argued.
He contended that a collaborative effort between the police and church and community organizations was likelier to succeed in curbing rising crime.
“If at the end of the walk . . . the Community Relations Department of the Royal Barbados Police Force is working in synchronization with the churches and also the Barbados Youth in Action Programme and other similar programmes, then we would see a serious, serious break through in the level of crime,” the retired parliamentarian said.
Meanwhile, Paul firmly supported Lashley’s position, telling reporters at the news conference at his constituency office that whenever there was a flare up of violence, there was usually an “overreaction” that failed to address the root causes of the problem.
“The immediate thing that we seem to do is to call in police forces and to have a police presence in communities thinking that would calm things,” he said.
The Government MP said it was time for the authorities to discard “orthodox” programmes and systems that had failed and introduce programmes that would work.
Paul said one such programme was the social intervention strategy that he and Lashley intend to launch in St Michael West Central shortly.
“It wasn’t too long ago, when the community arm of the Royal Barbados Police Force was working in synchronization with the community leaders across this country and this country was a very stable country because they had the synergized relationship along with the churches. So crime was at his lowest,” he emphasized.
The Government parliamentarian admitted there were no quick fixes to the crime problem, but stressed his programme would “start an initiative which I think will involve the essential element in the community which I think we have ignored”.
Paul decided to spearhead the programme after three recent shootings in his constituency.