Knife crime, which has reached epidemic proportions in Britain, appears to have risen to an “unprecedented” level here with a rash of stabbings, Attorney General Dale Marshall has warned.
Amid a record number of murders for the first eight months of the year, ten of the 34 slayings have involved the use of knives and cutlasses, raising concern for the Government’s chief legal adviser.
London has experienced a second year of a knife crime epidemic with 86 deaths in the British capital since the start of 2019. Overall, knife crime in England and Wales soared to a record high last year with 43,000 attacks.
Addressing a post-cabinet media briefing at Government Headquarters on Thursday, the Attorney General said: “We are seeing something that is also unprecedented in Barbados – the tremendous number of stabbings.
“It is almost as if knives have become the second weapon of choice.
“This is something we are watching very closely.”
But Marshall said there were no quick fixes, while giving the assurance that a number of workable measures were put in place that needed time to work – as he blamed the phenomenon on the decade-long tenure of the Stuart administration.
Marshall said that due to “unprecedented levels of decay” over the past decade in “every aspect in the Barbadian society” the work to bring about a change would not be easy or overnight.
He said: “The first reality that we have to confront is that it is fanciful to believe that you can turn around ten years of decay, ten years of broken structures, ten years of abandonment of the people of Barbados in ten months, 12 months or 14 months.
“To encourage the people of Barbados to believe that there is an overnight solution would be wrong of us.
“What we have embarked on are series of methodical, well thought out strategies that we firmly believe are bearing fruit.
“The numbers of boots on the ground have been effective, the campaign of the Royal Barbados Police Force has been effective.”
He added that at the level of the Caribbean Community it was decided that the region should start treating the issue of crime and violence “as if it were a public health problem”.
He told reporters: “It is a multi-prong approach that we are taking.
“We think that we have adequately provisioned the police force, we have given them all of the resources that they have asked for and we need to give that time to work.”
The Attorney General said there are “other elements” that Government has to put in place, including ongoing improvements in the judicial system to handle a backlog of criminal cases.
While expressing confidence in the national crime-fighting agencies, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said she believed “half the problem” to rising crime was the lack of “proper training” among young people on how to express themselves.
She called for residents to settle disagreements through dispute resolution, as she promised that her administration would continue to do what it could to help young people while fighting crime.
“We have to bring back this country,” declared Mottley.
“I think Barbadians need to work with us on this. Our society has to be rebuilt,” she added.
Mottley disclosed that the recommendation for judges would be approved in “a few days”, making way for the opening of the promised criminal courts and commercial court, which she also said was a part of the overall efforts in tackling the issue.
“So we are getting there, but let us not believe that we can do this abracadabra, because it did not happen overnight and it is not going to be solved overnight,” said Mottley.