Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson has suggested that the post-general election portfolios assigned to him by Prime Minister Mia Mottley had been a challenge to manage effectively.
Hinkson was today responding to the decision by the Prime Minister to relieve him of those duties related to the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) with immediate effect and to reassign them to Attorney General Dale Marshall.
Apart from the police force, Hinkson will no longer be responsible for the Forensic Services Centre, the Criminal Justice Research Unit nor the Police Complaints Authority.
Being stripped of responsibility for law and order comes at a time when Barbados is experiencing a frightening spate of gun-related and other violent activity. There have been three deaths and several gun-related injuries since the start of the new year. There have also been recent shootings at law enforcers on patrol in the Chapman Lane, New Orleans and Murphy’s Pasture areas of the City.
Confessing to Barbados TODAY this morning that he was in “total agreement” with the Prime Minister’s decision, Hinkson said he could now better manage his remaining duties.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs as constituted immediately after the election had 14 departments; the majority of them of significance and challenging,” he said.
“You will recall too that I am the only minister in the ministry, unlike some other ministries that have two ministers or parliamentary secretaries,” Hinkson reasoned.
He noted that his ministry now has nine departments to supervise, many of which were in need of policy and legislative reform.
“And this move by the Prime Minister allows me the opportunity to be able to better concentrate on those areas,” he pointed out.
He identified immigration, which he contended has gone through fundamental changes over time and which involves issues related to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, the Caribbean Single Market and Economy and Barbados’ need to increase its population.
He reiterated his intention to bring reform of immigration policy and legislation to Cabinet within the next few months. Preparatory work was also underway for the coming hurricane season, he added.
“Cabinet decided at a very early stage to prepare for this year’s hurricane season and therefore we are actively looking at disaster management,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Hinkson said the postal service, which remains under his watch, will be modernized to keep abreast of the technological competition while the juvenile correctional facility and Her Majesty’s Prison at Dodds, are also receiving his attention for reform.
“The Girls and Boys’ Industrial Schools are in serious need of modernization as well. Our response to teenage infraction is legislation which has been on our statute books for 90 and 100 years…a 1926 and a 1930 Act . . . and we have to do better by our teenagers who fall into delinquency in terms of our response and our ability to bring them into mainstream society,” he stated.
He said the prison was also a serious area impacting the society.
“And we have to do better at rehabilitating the prisoners to give them a better chance when they come out of prison to be useful members of society and to reduce the 68 per cent recidivism which presently exists among the prison population,” the Minister of Home Affairs argued.
He also listed the Fire Service, the Probation Department and the National Council on Substance Abuse as areas under his purview that were in need of special focus.
“So the ministry which I have is now a lot more manageable . . . and with nine departments now instead of about 13 or 14, I am able to concentrate better on those departments, all of which are in need of reform,” Hinkson emphasized.
Meanwhile, with the portfolio responsibility for law and order going to the Attorney General, his long list of duties now embraces Principal legal adviser to Government; Law reform and law revision; Court Administration; Legal Aid; Legal Affairs; Court Process Office; Magistrates’ Courts; Registration Department; Supreme Court; Community Legal Service Commission; Rehabilitation of Offenders Board; Director of Public Prosecutions; Financial Intelligence Unit; Anti-Money Laundering Authority and the Family Law Council.