Attorney General Dale Marshall has defended Government’s handling of crime, amid calls for his resignation, while one of his Cabinet colleagues has announced the launch of an anti-violence campaign targeting the youth.
Responding to critics who have demanded that he step aside as Attorney General following recent incidents of gun violence, Marshall compared the Government’s actions since taking office with that of the previous Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration as he sought to make the point that the Mia Mottley administration was taking action to address crime and violence.
However, he said, the entire society has a role to play.
“For those DLP people who [believe] that gun violence only started last year or year before, I went into the archives, and in the newspaper of August 20 2015, the headline was Gun Crazy. The Acting Commissioner of Police [Tyrone Griffith], was then complaining about the abundance of illegal weapons in Barbados, which he said were coming into Barbados through legitimate ports of entry,” he said during the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) meeting in Taitt Hill, St George on Sunday.
“All through 2015, the Commissioner of Police was constantly saying to the last administration, ‘we have a problem with guns’. Not a word from the then Attorney General.
“You and I were in our homes when they were murdering people and shooting them down in the streets, up and down Barbados. We were calling out the Democratic Labour Party day after day. We were right to do so, in part because we were the Opposition, but also because our duty as the Opposition is to say to a Government you can do better than this. The last administration abandoned the young people of this country, had very little to say about crime, and wanted to convince you everything was alright,” Marshall added.
On the other hand, he said, the BLP administration has implemented several new measures to tackle the crime issue, such as purchasing new scanners for the ports of entry, appointing new judges, passing new legislation, and bolstering the Royal Barbados Police Force.
Speaking a day after the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Tremaine Cummings in King Street, The City, Marshall was adamant that crime on the island cannot be tackled by the police alone and a holistic approach, involving all in society, is required.
“Our young men were not made criminals by this Barbados Labour Party; our young men were made criminals by a system that failed them. You call the police after [an incident] has happened, but hopefully you should call the parent before. I am not making any excuses, but in the same way I said to my son last night, ‘son stay on the straight and narrow’, we have a responsibility as the individuals who are in the position to guide our young men and women, to tell them in the early to stay away from that kind of environment,” he said.
Meantime, noting concerns that young people have been behind the recent spate of crime in the country, Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Dwight Sutherland announced the launch of a campaign by his Ministry, which will offer youth the opportunity to turn from a life of crime.
“We are not only waiting on the police to address deviant behaviour in this country, we want to save our many young people in this country. We [will] launch an anti-violence campaign this week in this country that we will take across the length and breadth of Barbados,” he said.
“So we are not only looking at jobs, we are looking at saving lives as well and giving people the opportunity. Those who have been incarcerated, we will give them a second chance. That is what we are about.”