Government is adding three additional criminal courts and is swiftly moving to address the shortage of police officers as well as hiring more community officers as part of efforts to arrest the crime situation on the island.
The initiatives were revealed by Prime Minister Mia Mottley who while maintaining that crime could not be solved by the Attorney General or the Barbados Police Service alone, said these improvements were necessary to help bring the situation under control.
Her comments have come just one day after three murders were recorded.
Speaking during the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) 83rd Annual Conference at Queen’s Park Saturday evening, Mottley said she was shocked to find out that over 80 per cent of murder and gun charges before the courts were from before 2018 – when her government assumed office.
She said the three additional courts would deal specifically with murder and serious cases in a further effort to make a dent in the backlog of cases.
Mottley said the quicker justice was served, the better.
“I’ve discussed with the Attorney General and he has discussed with the Chief Justice that we will make available immediately the provisions for three more criminal courts on top of the five that we have to wrestle the crime down to the ground.
“Why? Because people with two and three murder charges will not think twice before they do foolishness again and therefore we need people to receive justice. If you are going to be acquitted, be acquitted, if you are going to be convicted, be convicted,” the Prime Minister stated.
“We have been in the Government four years and three months. How do we still have more than 80 per cent of the murder cases in Barbados dating from before May 2018? Almost 80 per cent of the gun charges before May 2018? The burden is too heavy and those new, three courts will deal predominantly with murder and gun but they will deal with all serious crime issues in Barbados…”
Mottley said they had set a target of getting matters dealt with between six to nine months and for any appeal to be disposed of within 12 to 15 months.
The Prime Minister said contracts for police officers were being discussed to attract much-needed bodies to the Barbados Police Service.
She said there was also an urgent need for more community officers to help with crime.
“In addition, you have seen the police advertising for recruits and we have discussed with the Commissioner that we will increase the numbers to two cohorts of 75 each in a year, making it 150 people and hopefully within less than two years we can fill all 250 vacancies in the Force.
“The terms and conditions are being negotiated generally now, but we need to make sure that we also increase the number of community officers and the Prince International Trust people because they are the ones working in communities with young kids and teenagers, I see it myself,” Mottley said.
She said she had also given the Commissioner of Police the go-ahead to hire additional persons to assist them with their investigations.
However, the Prime Minister maintained that the crime situation could not be solved unless all Barbadians played their part.
She said persons who had information that could assist the police needed to speak up.
Mottley also called on family members not to encourage criminal behavior in their households and to say “enough is enough.” (RB)