If the Mia-Mottley administration wants to get a handle on crime, more resources must be allocated to poorly-funded, social and welfare institutions, a senior civil servant has warned.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Gabrielle Springer on Friday expressed frustration with the lack of funding being given to key social intervention and welfare arms of Government for the upcoming fiscal year.
Reacting to Government’s estimates tabled in Parliament earlier this week, she acknowledged that while increased funding for the police force is important, it would not be enough.
Springer called for a greater focus to be placed on crime prevention and its impact on the wider society while addressing the closing ceremony of an Executive Development Course for the Regional Security System (RSS)’s Training Institute.
She pointed out that entities like the Child Care Board are forced to respond when parents run afoul of the law leaving their children behind. This is made worse by the increasing demands on counselling services when gruesome crimes are witnessed by young children.
“That child now needs to be nurtured and counselled and therefore what we need now is a counsellor and a psychologist. If it was really horrible, I might need a psychiatrist. Those people are professionals and they cost money. We have some, but we need more.
“We need to do things differently from how we currently do them and certainly about where we place our financial resources. So for example, the estimates for 2020-2021 were laid in Parliament earlier this week and I am sure there are increased resources for the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) versus the social services,” the permanent secretary observed.
She said this lack of attention to the social wellbeing of youth, results in a dangerous society where some are exposed to crime from the time they enter their mother’s wombs. They are later exposed to criminal environments, she added, and end up in juvenile correctional facilities before they are eventually incarcerated or killed.
To curb this cycle, Springer suggested an examination of the Canadian law enforcement system which in her opinion, seeks to address the root causes of crime.
“We need to prevent [crime] before it happens and that means a whole lot of work in the social services, in the education system, in the youth system and so on. And yes, the Government of Barbados is certainly going along that route where the Prime Minister has indicated that we are running an economy, along with the society.
“But if we do not deal with the society, the possibility is there for the environmental gains to be completely nullified,” she warned.
In the absence of increased funding for mainstream social services, Springer suggested that more work must be done to improve the impact of the RBPF’s community policing programmes.
“You all have done phenomenal work in New Orleans for example, but more needs to be done. More police officers need to be working in communities. When they work in communities they play nanny, sports coach, they counsel and they pray. They are mentors in these communities and more of that needs to happen,” she said. [email protected]