Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite wants Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders to put crime, as well as disaster management, on their agenda for the next meeting of heads of government due at the end of February next year.
The authorities here have been scrambling for answers to the spate of gun crimes that has resulted in 28 murders so far this year, surpassing the 23 recorded for all of last year.
In addition, police have had to tackle other serious offences such as aggravated burglary, theft, gun related crimes, illegal drugs and rape.
In the southern division alone, there have been approximately 90 cases of gun related crimes, 24 cases of serious bodily harm and 440 cases of illegal drugs so far this year.
In an address today at the opening of a workshop to advance citizen security data management for youth crime prevention, Brathwaite said crime and violence, along with disasters, were critical issues that could impact on the region’s progress.
“I believe that there are two issues that our heads of government should tackle next time they meet: crime and security and disaster management. Those are the two most crucial issues that this region faces at this point in time. These two issues can, and will, determine how we go forward, or if we go forward as a region,” he told those gathered for the opening of the two-day CariSECURE workshop hosted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit of the Office of the Attorney General.
CariSECURE is part of USAID’s youth empowerment services project, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme. Its goal is to improve youth crime and violence policymaking and programming in the southern and eastern Caribbean through the use of quality, comparable and reliable national citizen security information, according to USAID.
Brathwaite argued that as a region that is dependent on tourism to fuel its economy, it was imperative that the Caribbean continued to be seen as “a region of peace”.
He contended that if crime, in particular, was not immediately controlled, it would have dire consequences.
“Unless we put the resources in place to tackle the challenges that we are having all across the region then we are shooting ourselves in the foot,” the AttorneyGeneral said, adding that the region needed to do a better job at compiling, and making available, crime statistics.
“We need a holistic approach. We need to have champions across all the ministries, across all the sectors, so that we have . . . information that is readily available. We cannot create effective policy without the relevant data,” he stated.
The CariSECURE Project has initiated the development of a Caribbean Citizen Security Toolkit aimed at improving citizen security data management, analysis and monitoring in the region.
Brathwaite said he hoped the toolkit would make the needed data more readily available.