Members of the diaspora have been given an assurance from Prime Minister Mia Mottley that everything is being done to manage the country’s current crime situation.
Speaking to Barbadians living in Canada on Sunday during a town hall meeting in Montreal, the Prime Minister said tough measures were needed.
However, she maintained that Government had implemented certain measures to address the problem.
Mottley said the recent amendment to the Bail Act was one of those.
“I am happy that Parliament spoke with one voice that we are not prepared for persons who are already on bail for murder or who are already on bail for firearm offences to be coming back out and committing the same crimes after the police have done a wonderful job in taking them up,” she said to rapturous applause.
“We are not going to agree that anyone should get bail for the first 24 months, having been charged with murder, treason, or a firearm offence, because we believe that six to nine months for murder cases is more than enough time for the cases to be heard in the first instance and then probably until another 12 months until it goes through the other two appellate stages.”
Mottley told the audience that Barbados had been dealing with increased guns over the “last few decades”.
“We are not accustomed to a lot of murders in Barbados and for the most part our murder rate has been flat and that’s why these gun crimes have been difficult,” the Prime Minister contended.
“Obviously we’ve had some difficulties the last few years and it’s largely as a result of the absence of programming and the absence of things to do for our unattached young people. They say the devil finds work for idle hands, but also unattached young people too. It is a challenge my Government has taken on readily.
“There were a number of things that we discovered that led to [this situation] regrettably and it is all relative, because for us it is bad but compared to others in the region it is still very much marginal with respect to gun crimes,” Mottley added.
However, she promised Government had agreed on several other initiatives that would help the country’s young people.
“First and foremost you solve a problem by making sure that you don’t add to the numbers and we’ve therefore determined that we have to have the kind of social programming and educational reform that is going to make a difference to people coming up, especially people between the ages of eight and 15 years old, where they are most vulnerable to fall off the track,” Mottley said.
She said Parliament had recently agreed to put aside $5 million for young people dedicated to culture and sporting activities.
Additionally, the Prime Minister said they had also invested in spending money to encourage entrepreneurial activity, especially on blocks across the island.