Prime Minister Mia Mottley has been cautioned not to be misled by an apparent lull in shooting deaths. She has been told that the recent decline is not enough to indicate success of her administration’s plan to curb rampant gun violence.
Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley told Barbados TODAY that while the statistics in the last four months are indeed a positive, Government still has a long way to go before Barbadians again feel safe.
He said: “One is always conscious of the fact of crime and the fear of crime.
“The fear of crime is still very much with us. The statistics will probably speak to the fact of crime.
“With respect to gun-related crime, especially fatalities, there seems to be a little bit of a fall off from that and I hope that it is a trend that indeed continues.
“However, the fear of crime is still very much with us and when you talk to people you get that understanding and sense that they are not as comfortable as possible.
“So, while we appreciate the initiatives that Government has taken, it is far too early to say that they are working.”
Speaking at a town hall meeting in Brooklyn over the weekend, Mottley, in response to a question about what is being done about the 35 murders for the year thus far, insisted that her administration has identified and plugged a number of loopholes, which has led to a decline in gun crime proliferation.
She said: “The bottom line is that even the course of the last four months, there has been a significant reduction in the number and the rate at which people were being shot in the country.
‘This is because people realise that there are people watching and there are people acting.”
The Prime Minister highlighted a ramped up effort to prevent guns from entering the Bridgetown Port by installing two new scanners there. She also pointed to technological upgrades to the police force and the appointment of seven new judges in an effort to get the wheels of justice turning faster.
But according to Atherley, his investigations have revealed that some measures mentioned by the Prime Minister are not functioning as efficiently as they should.
Atherley said: “With respect to scanners at the port, I understand that has been done but I also do understand that there are some concerns as to how they are actually monitored.
“There are those who are of the view that the manner in which they are monitored and by whom they are monitored is an issue.
“I applaud the Government’s efforts to enhance the judiciary numerically, but this has now happened and must be given time to work.
“So its too early to speak on its effectiveness to date because this has just happened and some may say that it is still in the process of happening.” [email protected]