Barbadians who help law enforcement officers locate criminals and help solve crimes have not been collecting their rewards, leaving the crime fighting charity, Crime Stoppers Barbados, with an undisclosed sum of unclaimed cash.
According to Programme Director Sherie Holder-Olutayo, the organization has paid only about $3,000 in rewards since the introduction of its anonymous tip line nine years ago.
Crime Stoppers offers up to $1,000 for tips that lead to an arrest, or the prevention or solution of a crime.
However, Holder-Olutayo told a press conference this morning at Southern Palms Hotel in St Lawrence Gap, Christ Church that although people were willing to provide information, they were failing to claim their dues because of the fear of being identified.
“What we have seen very often is that people don’t claim them. When you call the tip centre you are given an identification number where you can check on your tip to see if any success has been made on it. If the tip materializes the person can then take that identification to the bank to collect their reward. To date we have paid out close to $3,000 since inception,” the Crime Stoppers official explained.
Neither Holder-Olutayo nor Chairman Oral Reid was willing to say how many people had failed to accept their rewards, how much money was involved or how many crimes have been solved through the hotline over the past nine years.
However, Reid said despite the fear of victimization or being labelled as snitches, many Barbadians continued to trust Crime Stoppers with information.
“I share in the view where we see a number of persons have not been coming forward to collect their rewards. I wouldn’t want to dwell on just how much money has been paid out. I think there is still prevailing fear. We are committed towards paying but obviously if persons still feel a bit uneasy about it they would be reluctant to come forward. The statistics that are available to us suggest that we have made a significant contribution to the resolution various crimes ranging from murder to incidents of theft, “ he said.
Reid noted that even though tips continued to flow through the tip line, these tips were not coming from communities regarded by law enforcement officials as problem areas.
He further revealed that the majority of the crimes reported through the anonymous service were related to drugs and theft.
He therefore stressed that more work had to be done to counter the culture of keeping quiet in the face of criminal activity.
“I must concede that I recognize that this is a very challenging area. It is one that we are going to have to take a more dynamic approach to elicit the response we want. We believe that as we continue to reassure Barbadians about the confidentiality of sharing information that we may allay their fears and concerns. There is a stark difference between walking up the steps of a police station and making a call in the comfort of your home. If we need to print more literature or share it more information about Crime Stoppers on social media, we will be doing that. We will continue to reach out to Barbadians and showing the importance of all us as citizens owning the responsibility for what happens in the country.”
The Crime Stoppers chairman also advised that people must not surrender the country to the bad elements, stressing that Barbadians should be free go about their business feeling safe and secure.
“I want to make it clear that police cannot solve crimes unless they receive the continued support of members of the Barbadians society . . . . We must not allow a small group of individuals to instill that much fear in us that it compromises our criminal justice system to the extent that matters cannot come before the court because they don’t have sufficient evidence from witnesses,” he stressed.