Barbadians are being assured that the worrying gun violence sweeping the island is getting the highest level of attention from the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF).
Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite admitted that the authorities were concerned about the spate of gun related incidents, but said he was confident the police force continued to effectively tackle the issue.
“We are very concerned,” Brathwaite told reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony at the St Matthias Magistrates Court, where the United States Embassy donated a new digital audio/video recording programme, designed to help improve efficiency there.
“What I can say to you is that you would notice that there is an increase in the number of firearms being seized for example . . . you are probably seeing more police presence on the road at nights in terms of when we are aware of certain events taking place. There are multiple things that we have to do,” he said.
The rise in gun crimes has prompted the perennial recommendation of a gun amnesty as part of the strategy to combat the problem.
However, the Attorney General said the RBPF was not convinced that an amnesty would be effective.
“At this point in time the Acting Commissioner of Police tells me he does not believe in amnesty, and in fact . . . they have not worked in most jurisdictions. The guys that have the illegal firearms, do you really believe they are going to come in and say give me $500 and I am going to turn it in? The answer is no,” Brathwaite said.
While statistics were not immediately available on the number of gun-related crimes committed so far this year, police have been kept busy dealing with such incidents.
Brathwaite had said in 2014 that consideration was being given to introducing a gun amnesty in a bid to get illegal firearms off the streets and reduce gun crimes.
Then Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith had revealed at the time that males in the 15 to 29 age group were responsible for the majority of those crimes, and that up to September that year 30 illegal firearms had been seized and 20 people charged in connection with those seizures.
However, in 2015 Brathwaite had said a gun amnesty would not work because Government could not afford to waive prosecution in every case for people turning in firearms.
And again last year he reiterated that a gun amnesty would not solve the island’s illegal firearms problem.
Director of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the US Embassy Drew Blakeney Wednesday gave the assurance that the US federal law enforcement agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration, continued to work closely with the drug squad here to dismantle the illegal drug trade and recover more illegal firearms.
“There is a lot of good exchange of intelligence and information about drug traffickers who happen to be the ones wielding those weapons on a routine basis.
“We recognize together this is a problem and we are working together to confront it,” Blakeney said.”