Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) parliamentarian Dwight Sutherland believes he has a way to stop the flood of illegal guns on the island’s streets.
Sutherland, the Member of Parliament for St George South, is suggesting that part of the solution lies at the Barbados Youth Service (BYS).
The BLP legislator said at a party meeting last night that by placing more young people into the BYS programme, the authorities would inevitably reduce the number of guns on the streets of Barbados.
“When young men and women leave school, we enroll those who can’t get into any of those tertiary institutions into the youth service. It would address delinquent behaviour, the number of guns on the streets,” Sutherland told the meeting at Ellerton Wesleyan Church in St George, held to solicit feedback and recommendations from Barbadians on the party’s recently launched Covenant for Hope that sets out the BLP’s vision for Barbados and its governance.
It was just on Wednesday that Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith announced a two per cent reduction in overall crime, including gun crimes, although drug-related offences were up.
“I am happy to say that as of Monday, we had a two per cent decrease in overall crime. So despite what some quarters would say in relation to violent crime, gun-related crime, we have done exceedingly well,” the Police Commissioner said at the annual general meeting of the Barbados Police Association.
Griffith said so far this year lawmen have taken nearly 50 illegal guns off the streets, the majority of which came from the United States.
“We have also been able to take off the streets a significant number of firearms. To date, my understanding is that we removed some 45 firearms from the streets and I think that is a good sweep.
“We still have some work to do. I have said many times before our borders are very permeable and so, firearms find their way into the country, very easily. Most of our firearms are coming in from the United States of America and we know what is the situation in the US as it relates to firearms and their second amendment and so it remains a very viable source of firearms entering Barbados,” the country’s top cop told the gathering of officers.
He said the RBPF had been working with the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in an effort to stem the flow of guns into the island.
However, Sutherland seemed to suggest that the illegal guns found their way into the hands of young people who were adopting a life of violent crimes because they were idle.
“Most of the youth are involved in crime, under 25, some 17, 18. Those are the ones who leave school, they’re not enrolled in any tertiary academic institution.
”We need to put most of the young men, the high school drop outs, into the youth service, or some other [technical] vocational programme that will build character, respect, some of the aspects that we would want the people to emulate with a view to the good governance,” he said.
Sutherland said that while tertiary education institutions such as the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, the Community College, along with a number of other skills training institutions are available, not all the school leavers qualified to attend these institutions.
The Barbados Youth Service currently offers young people 12-month training programmes, of which three months are residential, three months for focusing on skills development, and the remaining six months on job attachments.
The BYS’ objectives including encouraging young people to adopt a positive attitude towards lifelong learning, work and their environment; creating an environment which enables young people to understand and assume their roles and responsibilities and preparing young people who are trained, skilled and disciplined to access and initiate employment opportunities.