Senior Research Officer in the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit (CJRPU) of the Ministry of Home Affairs Kim Ramsay is recommending a tiered approach to tackling crime.
And she said the first step was to identify the trouble spots and disband the criminal elements in these areas.
“The short-term solution in my opinion is that we have to first of all go into the communities that are problematic. Where there is evidence of criminal groups, we have to disband these groups by whatever means necessary and that obviously is a law enforcement tactic that I cannot speak to because I am not a member of law enforcement.
“But that is an immediate solution because there is a lot of intelligence on the ground. Don’t let us think that the police don’t know what is going on. The police always know what is going on. So, we have to target those groups . . . do a lot of raids and so on,” she said.
Ramsay joined National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) President Akanni McDowall, Member of Parliament for St Michael West Central James Paul and reformed gangster Mario Bruce in a discussion organized as part of the Man Talk series of the Men’s Fellowship of the Cave Hill Wesleyan Church.
In the discussion themed How Can We Stop The Gun From Coming? Ramsay said the island’s education system would also have to be carefully scrutinized to ensure at risk youth do not fall through the cracks.
“We have to put programmes in communities to deal with these persons in the school setting. We know who the at-risk persons are so we’ve already established that we need to deal with that. . . . And then the long terms solutions are the problems that are not solved in a political light,” she said.
The researcher spoke of people engaging in criminal activity after they are kicked out of school, a issue raised earlier this week by criminologist Yolande Forde in an interview with Barbados TODAY.
“I spoke about the problems that we saw in our prisons where we have a lot of persons who said that . . . a high percentage . . . were kicked out of school at 13 and 14 years old and they end up on the block. How do we stop that transition?” Ramsay asked.
She said the did crime problem did not emerge suddenly, and it could not be solved overnight, adding that the fight against crime required a sustainable approach, commitment, political will and adequate resources.
Her sentiments were shared by McDowall who said that in the short term, once the high crime areas were identified, the necessary resources should be allocated to those areas.
“Then we can look at the medium-term plan that would include educating our children, which would include looking at all of the systems that can be put in place, which would be how we protect our borders even more than what we are doing now. What we need to do as a people though is to recognize in the long term that we have to change the way how we think,” the NUPW president said.
Meantime, Paul suggested that communities, families and individuals needed to work together to devise strategies to bring an end to crime.
“The churches have to get to work. We have got to start putting more into our schools and trust in the integrity of each other and stop demonizing one another,” Paul said.
For his part, Bruce noted that Barbados was a society rooted in abusive families, broken homes and broken relationships.
He explained that children tend to gravitate towards the areas where they feel a sense of love.
“Believe me, he will defend it with his all . . . . People connect with people who they can identify with. It is one thing for us to stand on a pulpit or from an office and say we want this or we want that. And it is another thing for being one who experience it and walked through it and being able to connect with those individuals and share that hope and share that love.
“We need to stop discriminating, stop labelling our ghettos and our blocks . . . .These are our future, that these are our young men and that having that sense it would drive us to really act, not just talk, but to really act on seeing our youth come to a better place,” he stressed.