The current crime situation in Barbados has been described as “horrific” and deserving of a national response, says the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB).
And the union’s General Secretary Dennis De Peiza is calling for the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) to be fully staffed in order to combat the high levels of crime and violence.
In a press release, De Peiza said the unprecedented level of gun violence and gun-related murders in the first half of the year was cause for national concern.
Barbados has recorded 30 murders in the first six months of 2019, bypassing the 28 recorded in a full year in 2018.
“The gravity of the situation warrants a national response, as the continued escalation of this criminal activity stands to negatively impact on the stability of the island and potentially contribute to the stagnation in economic development.
“The surge in gun violence and gun-related murders can also pose a threat to the country’s tourism product, whereby it can be blacklisted as an unsafe tourist destination. Worse yet, this form of violence can serve as a deterrent to foreign investors,” De Peiza stated.
While commending the RBPF for its efforts in trying to arrest the problem, the general secretary conceded they were short-staffed.
He however, called on the force to do everything in its power to increase its numbers, as community policing was desperately needed.
“In the interest of national security, CTUSAB suggests that the RBPF as the law enforcement agency, needs to have the required number of police officers to be deployed in active duty.
“The opportunity now presents itself for the government of the day to review how it could make the RBPF more attractive to new recruits. With an increase in the number of police officers, it is anticipated that there will be a return to the days of community policing, which can serve as a deterrent to criminal activity,” he said.
De Peiza also urged the public to support the police force by reporting information which could lead to the apprehension of persons involved in the gun trade and gun crimes.
The CTUSAB official also reiterated the call for tighter security at the island’s air and sea ports.
He said this was critical to stop the influx of illegal guns and drugs in Barbados.
“As a step towards reducing, if not eliminating, the gun problem there must be an aggressive approach to ascertaining the source of the supply of guns and to combatting entry of the same through the air and sea ports of Barbados.
“CTUSAB believes that heightened surveillance is needed at all ports of entry and where necessary, specialized training for police, customs and immigration officers. This is more likely to pay dividends in tackling the entry of illegal guns and drugs into the country,” De Peiza said.