Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has called on Barbadians to exercise patience in the wake of increasing crime, saying a series of measure to tackle the scourge will be rolled out soon.
He told the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) 62nd Annual Conference this morning that the measures are presently before the Cabinet.
“A suite of legislative and other measures, all within the constitution, to confront this issue is engaging the attention of Cabinet at the moment. These measures, the Royal Barbados Police Force has assured us, will enhance considerably the capacity of the force to deal with this scourge. Stay tuned,” Stuart said.
The announcement comes against the backdrop of rising public consternation over gun and other forms of violent crimes.
So far this year, there have been more than two dozen murders compared to 22 for all of last year.
The prime Minister did not provide details on the measures or when they would be rolled out, saying they will come like a thief in the night.
“The criminal element does not call press conferences or issue releases to announce when or where they will strike next. That criminal element relies heavily on the element of surprise. The State, therefore, in defence of its citizens and of its values, will make use of the element of surprise as well,” Stuart said.
“Government is focusing on aggressively confronting the problems on specially equipping the law enforcement agencies and rationalization the operations of our criminal justice system,” Stuart added.
The Prime Minister noted that it’s a “small segment” of the population that now sees the possession and use of a high-powered firearm as the best symbol of personal empowerment, adding that they must be brought back on track.
But he warned that the crime problem did not develop overnight.
“Let us not pretend that the so-called bad boys in the society were sneaked into Barbados one night when we were all asleep. They are the sons of mothers and fathers that we know. This is our problem and we have to confront it honestly and deal with it. We did not get here overnight and we are not going to get away from here overnight.
“Higher standards in our households, better examples in our communities, a more aggressive outreach by our churches, teaching and learning of good citizenship in our schools, and a politics that helps our young people to realize their dreams and aspirations must replace the high-powered firearms as a symbol of personal power.”
He acknowledged that these are medium term solutions but said “we must begin to work now to save those who have not been ensnared in this deadly trap”.