There was much food for thought emanating from yesterday’s ceremony at the Richard Haynes Boardwalk, Hastings, Christ Church, where the Royal Barbados Police Force received new beach patrol uniforms compliments of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA). The relationship between the two entities dates back decades with the force’s hierarchy once designating an inspector in the 1990s to work specifically with the BHTA to ensure that mutually beneficial avenues of communication and cooperation were always at a premium. It has worked wonders and successive commissioners of police and BHTA chief executive officers are to be commended for their efforts.
Barbados’ economy depends heavily on tourism. When visitors come to the island on vacation they leave all their likely trials and stresses behind in their homeland and look forward to a few days or weeks of complete fun and relaxation. Their inclination to spend money or subsequently to return to this island naturally depends on the experience they have. It is therefore incumbent on all Barbadian citizens that whenever and wherever they encounter visitors to the island they appreciate that they are all local ambassadors and presenting the best possible aspects of this country is their patriotic duty. Barbados is but one of several worldwide destinations and for all its beauty and attractions, tourists are under no obligation whatsoever to come here.
But of course we do not live in a utopia and as much as we would wish that our visitors have only pleasurable experiences, there will be self-serving imbeciles whose criminal actions and unsavoury conduct will from time to time occasion national distress. During yesterday’s ceremony, Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith revealed that in 2014, 1.2 million tourists had visited the island and 295 crimes had been committed against them. He also indicated that last year 1.45 million persons visited the island and 215 crimes were committed against them. In any mathematical or statistical analysis, this must be viewed as a major success and an indication of what has materialized due to the cooperation between the BHTA and the Royal Barbados Police Force. In referencing the decline of crime committed against visitors and the role his officers have played, Mr Griffith had this to say: “I think that is a tribute to the hardworking men and women on the beach patrols…they have ensured that our locals and tourists alike are safe on our beaches . . . I’m satisfied that the BHTA has really taken ownership of the tourism product along with the TDC [Tourism Development Corporation] and others and it is for that reason they find it so easy to support law enforcement in their exercise as they seek to make Barbados a safer place for visitors and us alike.”
Though Commissioner Griffith did not address it yesterday, it is to the credit of the Royal Barbados Police Force and members of the public that several of the persons responsible for crimes committed against visitors to the island last year were apprehended, either by officers on the beach, as a result of investigations carried out subsequent to reports being made or by civic-minded Barbadians who witnessed such incidents and intervened. Because of the temporary status of visitors to the island, swift or immediate detection and apprehension of offenders are crucial to bringing perpetrators to justice, and in the instance of theft, recovering stolen property. It is a matter of public record that most of the crimes committed against visitors that were successfully investigated in 2018 were solved within hours or days of their commission.
In his remarks yesterday, BHTA chief executive officer Rudy Grant pledged his association’s continued support to the police and made the important point that making Barbados a safe haven was not the responsibility of police officers alone. “The issue of safety and security is not simply a matter for the police, but it also has to be a matter of concern for all Barbadians. Therefore it means that all Barbadians must be prepared to assist the police in the execution of their duties and be willing to assist the police in any way that is possible,” Mr Grant noted.
He also took the opportunity to encourage Barbadian companies and other entities to assist the police and to give them meaningful and tangible support. “We are extremely happy to be here in support of the police once again . . .We believe by partnering with the police, we will continue to ensure that that very important brand element of safety and security is protected.”
Now, if this level of cooperation between the BHTA and the Royal Barbados Police Force can bring such positive results in the tourism sector, imagine what can accrue from increased cooperation between the police and the general public with respect to combatting gun-related and drug-related crime in communities across Barbados. Wrestling general lawlessness and criminality to the ground is not beyond us.