One of the country’s most outspoken legislators is suggesting a downsizing of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) and a recruitment of terminated soldiers to fill the serious shortage in the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF).
Putting forward the idea as a crime-fighting tool this morning, Opposition Senator and trade union leader Senator Caswell Franklyn, told Barbados TODAY it made no sense spending more than $60 million in taxpayers money every year on an army that was not necessary in its present form.
“The police force need manpower. Crime is escalating and you ain’t got no more police. Right now we have a totally useless defence force that is not necessary. I am not saying send them all home. I am saying, redeploy them…just use the defence force as it used to be in the past . . . when it was the Barbados Regiment . . . for ceremonial occasions. Right now they are spending $60 something million dollars on the defence force a year,” Franklyn said.
He argued that the reason this kind of money was being spent was for the army to protect the country in case of an attack by a foreign enemy or other force.
The Opposition legislator contended that even if Barbados were attacked, it did not have the resources to repel any sophisticated onslaught.
He said the fact that twice a year the Governor General signs an order allowing the army to assist the police, meant there was need for additional law enforcers.
“Deploy them as police officers and let them do some useful work, rather than keeping them up there drilling and tending their uniform and shining their boots. They are not serving any useful purpose right now. There is no need for them,” the Senator declared.
“The defence force needs to be downsized. Some of those people can be made police officers with the necessary training and that will help with the crime situation,” he stressed.
Franklyn was of the view that there is a lot of talk and little action on the part of the Government to do anything about fighting crime in this country.
“Have you seen anything where the Government has said this is an initiative to fight crime? No! There is only a lot of talk. And worse yet, they are filling up the Dodds Prison with a lot of young men for minor things and they are not fighting the big stuff,” Franklyn told Barbados TODAY.
The Opposition Senator has pointed an accusing finger at the judicial officers.
“I got to blame the magistrates for that
. . . you lock up people because you want to teach them a lesson. That’s not what denying a man bail should be about. Denying a man bail should be if he is a threat or if he is going to interfere with the investigation or something like that . . . or he might be a flight risk,” he insisted.
Franklyn said these inmates were then kept on remand for years and when they were released they returned to society angry.
“’Well yuh lock me up for nothing . . . so yuh could lock me up for something,’” Franklyn said in reference to what some former inmates might suggest.
Speaking generally, he suggested that this problem needed a study to be carried out into it, “because I think we are creating the criminals.”
He said opportunities were not being provided for these mostly young men, so they create their own such as involvement in illegal drugs and robberies.
Franklyn expressed concern that the young men were being converted into hardened criminals by the time they leave prison.
“They take them in prison. There is no rehabilitation up there for them and when the time comes they let them out. They go and become hardened because they get better ideas from the people up there who teach them better. So you don’t really need to lock up these people. You need to find work for them,” he contended, adding that if employment were found they would not have time to be breaking into houses.
Franklyn said he was not impressed with the way the Government was handling the crime situation.
He said the Government had not created any increase in employment for the average person.
He complained that people were being sent home who have children to feed and support.
The Opposition Senator did not believe that jobless parents were going to stand idly by and watch their children starve.
“This Government does not care anything about oversight. They pretend about oversight because the IMF is mandating it. That is why they come up with this new Bill, the Public Finance Management Bill which will go before Parliament tomorrow,” he said.
He warned the Government not to rush this Bill because it was too comprehensive.
Franklyn accused the Mottley Administration of bringing this measure without telling people what it was all about. email@example.com