Rising gun violence is taking its toll on the state’s coffers at a time when Barbados is going through severe financial turmoil, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite has said.
Of further concern to Government’s top legal advisor is the focus of Government’s expenditure remains on law enforcement instead of crime prevention.
He was speaking against the backdrop of this week’s debate on the Estimates, which make provision for $155 million in expenditure under the Attorney General’s office. This includes $17 million for administration of justice, up from $15 million in the Revised Estimates for 2016/2017; $113 million for police services up from $106 million; and $1.16 million for law enforcement, up from $1.15 million.
Delivering the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) lunchtime lecture at the party’s George Street headquarters today following Thursday night’s shooting death of 33-year-old James Alleyne who was gunned down at Trents, St James, Brathwaite lamented that funds, which could be put to better use in areas such as health care and education, were going towards increasing the size of the police force and recruitment in the Barbados Defence Force.
“When compared to first world countries we are actually utilizing more of our earnings [on law enforcement],” lamented Brathwaite, while acknowledging that the dilemma was one faced by many small island economies.
“We spend more money creating positions for police officers, as well as an enlarged army, but moreover, because of the level of crime you then have a growth in security firms. Then of course because of the fear in your capital city, persons don’t stay at work very long and this impacts on productivity.
“So the cost adds up because you now have to buy your security systems for your business but in many cases you have to hire private security,” he explained.
However, given Barbados’ 66 per cent recidivism rate, the Attorney General warned that neither increased expenditure on armed forces nor implementation of harsher penalties were proving to be effective deterrents to criminal behviour.
“We have this thing in Barbados where we say, ‘let us lock them up, that is the answer’. However, I am saying to you that it has not proven to be the answer.
“Locking away our people and then bringing them back onto the streets, not having addressed what drove them to the criminal behaviour, they just come back out and go back in. So we need to address the issue of what is causing the young man or young woman to get into crime in the first place,” he stressed.
“As a policymaker I therefore need to persuade the Minister of Finance and the Cabinet to spend the money on preventative and rehabilitation measures, instead of spending the money bolstering armed forces, we should spend the money in enhancing and improving the criminal justice system . . . to move our young people away from criminal behaviour. That is why I champion the Drug Treatment Court I brought in two years ago,” he added.