Perhaps the greatest obstacle to successful law enforcement in Barbados is misguided and unwarranted political meddling in the Royal Barbados Police Force. Add to this a deviation from areas of traditional policing, a failure to pursue non-traditional means of criminal detection, questionable recruitments, failure to pursue robustly criminal elements wherever and whoever they might be and a disconnect from the public. And things have fallen apart in Barbados.
Criminal activity has and will always be with us. It goes hand in hand with human existence. But we have previously stated that Barbados is too small a country and too densely populated for criminal elements – white or blue collar – to thrive with unfettered assurance. Barbadians know who the drug dealers are in their midst. They know who the gunmen are. They also know which politicians keep too close a relationship with both drug dealers and gunmen. Barbadians have their suspicions and/or intel as to who are the individuals working in the customs department, the ports of entry, the police force, the coast guard, the prison service, and elsewhere, who do not give their all towards wrestling crime in Barbados to the ground. So, if we know so much, why is there still a proliferation of drugs and weapons in our dwarf-sized communities – constantly entering and circulating – and seemingly getting worse?
We are told that there are a number of would-be businessmen who have opened stores, restaurants and other commercial businesses with proceeds directly derived from the drug trade. Our information is that there are individuals working in sensitive, security-oriented agencies whose possessions and lifestyles bear absolutely no resemblance to the government salaries they collect each month. We have had several cases of customs and port officials brought before the courts for their involvement in drug-trafficking. There have been suggestions that drugs, guns and ammunition enter Barbados among legitimate cargo in containers belonging to businessmen. There have been reports of prison officers trafficking drugs in our main prison. There have been coast guard officials brought to public attention as a result of allegations of their involvement in the drug trade. There have been allegations of crime files growing wings and flying unseen out of the Court Prosecutors Office of the police force. But in the midst of all of this, what is the level of detection, arrest and prosecution of individuals involved, that currently obtains in Barbados? It is basically negligible, we dare say.
We have laws in Barbados as it relates to the paying of taxes. We also have drug dealers and gun runners living affluent lifestyles with no visible means of legitimate income. But how often does police law enforcement collaborate with those working in that field to investigate and apprehend these individuals for this serious legal breach, even if a non-violent crime? How much cooperation does the banking system give law enforcement as it relates to providing intelligence on the liquid assets of known or suspected criminal elements? How frequently are our forfeiture of assets laws used when persons are convicted for drug-related crimes and can show no legitimate sources of income?
The court system is in a mess. We are told that there are upwards of 24 persons currently on bail on murder charges. We are informed that some of these murders were in connection with drug-related assassinations. Yet these perpetrators are walking the streets among us. How can this happen? The court system occasionally finds itself forced to give deviants bail because members of the police force are not producing case files and are getting away with their negligence. This speaks not only to their indifference but to the incompetence of their supervisors who either do not provide proper oversight or because of being placed in positions for which they are ill-suited, they have no idea how to provide direction on the preparation of case files. The end result, as evidenced on a weekly or monthly basis in the magistrates’ courts, is that paperwork remains lost in transition for several years.
But what about traditional policing? It seems police officers no longer patrol communities on foot either in uniform or plainclothes. This, we understand, was an effective way in the past to build relationships and garner information. Many have complained that even police vehicular patrols have become ineffective because invariably their tinted glass windows are mainly closed with those inside hearing nothing and seeing less. The response time to reports, we understand, leaves a lot to be desired, whether it be related to a domestic altercation or a criminal act. Alacrity in many of these situations can save lives; sloth brings the opposite result.
But one of the main sore points is political interference. Politicians think votes first, and all else afterwards. It is for this reason that they seek to ingratiate themselves with drug dealers who have influence on young voters working their various ‘blocks’ which these officials sometimes frequent. It is sending the wrong message. It emboldens young and old thugs when they rub shoulders with ignorant politicians, whether they do so under a tree or inside a kiosk. It is also problematic when politicians influence promotions in the police force, and even more deleterious when they subvert the daily functioning of the police force to facilitate some political whim.
We ought to examine ourselves and ponder on what we can do to prevent the entry of the next gun into the island, the slaying of our neighbour, or the further deterioration of the Barbados we used to know. And when we have done all that, the task of early intervention into the lives of our young people awaits.
9 Replies to “#BTEditorial – How did our Barbados get here?”
This is a very good article, makes a lot of good observations about the Barbados i love. Please take heed to the voice of reason, the Island requires it. We can and should do better for future generations to come.
Excellent editorial comment, and a great summary of some of the crime problems facing our island. Another is the often astonishing fact (to many) that most police officers are not formally trained in Crime Prevention, focusing as they do mainly on “crime reaction”. A previous Commissioner, when warned in 2010 about the potential growth in drug-related crime (including firearm use) and how my company’s accredited training could help simply shook his head and patronisingly told me “It won’t happen here” whilst laughing in my face. Fast forward to 2020 and look where we find ourselves.
As an expat living abroad i am appalled at the justice system in Barbados .This have been an ongoing situation for quite sometime without any real solutions provided. these pathetic politician’s pander for votes and a golden pension. Its time we hold them accountable for inaction. They cant even pass an ethics bill, and dont use covid as an excuse. Guess Barbados society will get the message when ppl like me and tourists stop coming to the island.,other islands have similar beaches to offer with better security.25 murder suspects on bail, white collar crime walking free with no fear of ever facing the law courts.law abiding Barbadians dont deseve this type of society.
This is so true but police should be able to get the job done with out the big up getting involved
The laws of barbados protect criminals hinder policing crime is beneficial to lawyers.the laws do not protect society and wants revamping. Can you believe a man kill a man asking for forgiveness. A man and a woman kill a man in 2016 plead guilty got 30 and 25 years respectively and only going to spend an additional 8yrs and 4yrs respectively having spent 4yrs on remand that is madness the sentences persons get today are very poor. Too many repeat offenders police juggling with. We only took an eight of the laws of england not even the main ones. Politicians do not want to offend nobody cause that X is important every 5yrs
This article was well written . It asked questions and raised concerns that I have asked and raised a long time ago. One such, for example is how a customs officer working for a meager salary could build a two million dollar house and this by it’s very nature doesn’t raise some modicum of suspicion. How corruption in Barbados. Especially by government ministers and others of similar socioeconomic status are rewarded even when this behavior impacts delivery of services to barbarians. So you are right on target and doing justice to journalism. Please continue. Kudos to you.
Oh my gosh! As a frequent visitor-tourist to your country (my last visit was in December of 2019), I found this article quite disconcerning. However this issues raised in the article are not unique to Barbados.Many countries have the same problems. Community-focused policing, for example, is an issue even here in my own city of Toronto. Mobs, gangs, etc are also problems; but the greatest fear is that the country will be over-run by drug lords and Russian oligarchs. I find that Bajans are a highly educated people, of high intellect and well-mannered etiquete. They must place forward, and elect individuals that are willing to work for the country, and not succumb to unfavourable influences. The worst thing one can do is elect a political joke. Hope to visit the island soon after the pandemic subsides.Cheers!
U all could cry till the u u all can cry till the cows come home but u need to look in the mirror before u get pun your high horse when the people get a real chance at a piece of the pie and not just the crumbs to fight over is when a change might come till then same crap just another day.
Indeed, honesty is pretty much disappearing. Only the coming of Christ can bring all of this to an end. Peace n Love..