Barbados needs a comprehensive, integrated crime reduction strategy.
And, says criminologist Yolande Forde in the absence of such a strategy, she is not surprised at the 42 murders that have taken place on the island so far for the year. She warned that piecemeal, ad hoc, knee-jerk measures and approaches would not help to reduce the crime rate.
Forde said that in January she commented on the fact that Barbados had recorded nine murders for that month, and predicted that this year would most likely produce the highest murder rate in the recent history of Barbados.
“We are ignoring a lot of the critical factors in the criminal equation that need to be addressed and when an incident occurs, we just want to respond to it. All of a sudden, the whole situation gets a lot of attention. What do the teachers have to say? What does the principal have to say? However, these occurrences are but a reflection of unaddressed issues long existing in the system.
“People actually fight every day in school, people actually get stabbed very often in school, it is just that it is not as heinous as the one that occurred, and a death did not result. But we are constantly ignoring a lot of the important telltale signs of criminality and we are not addressing them,” Forde said.
The retired criminologist said a well-coordinated plan to fight violence and criminal elements was needed, and suggested that a four-prong approach was needed.
“There needs to be a strategy associated with criminality prevention which is totally proactive. There needs to be an effective strategy for situational crime prevention which is associated more with controlling the physical environment in an attempt to reduce the incidents of crime.
“The third strategy deals with efficient and effective policing response. And the fourth would be we need to have correctional reform that focuses more on addressing deficiencies within the criminal justice system,” she said.
The specialist stressed that while the primary role of police officers was to respond to crime scenes, they were not solely responsible for crime reduction. She said police should fit into a broader strategy that complements their response.
“The telltale signs that an individual is at criminal risk are often presented very early in his/her life. The problem is that we either ignore it, or we don’t have a plan and a strategy to address it. You can’t suspend and expel problem behaviour out of a school and it is solved.
“Unless you are banishing the person from the wider society it is staying right here and they will become your future rapists and murderers and burglars.
“When you see the telltale signs, you need to have a definite plan in place that properly assesses what’s going on because there could be many factors driving the conduct. That plan is not there. The way I see people responding when tragic incidents occur, tells me a comprehensive crime reduction strategy is not there,” Forde said.