Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says there must be no space for gunmen or criminals to function in St Vincent and the Grenadines, as the country must maintain its reputation as a safe and secure place.
Gonsalves together with Police Commissioner Colin John, issued a joint statement over the weekend after they met with the leadership of the police force to discuss new crime-fighting initiatives.
The talks come on the heels of a number of homicides already for 2023, with the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force reporting seven homicides for the year thus far, two of the victims being women.
Gonsalves said the meeting consisted of reviewing current strategies and new initiatives to be taken on several different fronts, and assessments on further resources that are required.
He said an operational framework for the taking of illicit firearms off the streets was discussed, with a nine-page document on that initiative.
The prime minister said while citizens would have seen increased patrols in some parts of the country, he lamented that when certain areas are locked down or have a strong presence, there are spillovers into other areas.
“I think given the homicides that have taken place in 2023 coming on the back of what happened last year, this particular session was an important one,” said the prime minister.
Gonsalves made it clear that it is the intention of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines and the Police Force, not to give criminals any space whatsoever.
It was also disclosed that discussions were held about the way in which some decisions are made in the Magistrate’s Court, which the prime minister said puzzles the police and right-thinking citizens.
Gonsalves made it clear the Judiciary is independent of the police and executive, and ‘we cannot interfere with those things,’ but wanted the public to know the discussions ranged far and wide, touching on the issue of citizen security.
The prime minister pointed out that while the police do not cause crimes, poor policing can provide more space for criminals. He said it is important for the police to be organised and operate in a manner to narrow the space to the furthest point practicable in relation to criminals so ‘they don’t have space to function… the gunmen have no space to function.’
The prime minister said the government relies on society’s support and for the judicial system to deliver justice and a country respecting law and order for St Vincent and the Grenadines to maintain its reputation as a place that is safe and secure.
He said in every society there are criminal challenges, but SVG has to make sure any such challenges are kept to the most minimal level.
It was noted that in relation to the causes of crime, different crimes have different causes and impulses. Gonsalves said if one has good family upbringing and solid values being inculcated from young in the home, schools, churches and community, young males can take advantage of opportunities available and will not be tempted by greed or any other weakness to go toward criminal activity.
With respect to the guns and bullets, which the prime minister said are entering from the USA, he said the police commissioner has a meeting lined up with the Comptroller of Customs, the Chief Executive Officer of the Argyle International Airport and the Coast Guard.
Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Colin John admits the year 2022 was not a good year for the police as SVG recorded ‘record homicides’. The police force has gone back to the drawing board to look at areas in which they could ensure that record is not repeated. SVG recorded 42 homicides in 2022.
The Top Cop said officers will police in a more effective and efficient manner, the issue of homicides in SVG.
He said there are increased patrols in hotspot areas as the police force aims to make 2023 a better and safer year for citizens of St Vincent and the Grenadines and visitors.
With regard to the Magistracy, the police force will be seeking an audience with relevant authorities to speak on general concerns as regards the police and the Magistracy, to see where they can ensure law enforcement, inclusive of the Magistrate court and citizens of SVG while not trampling on someone’s rights– that they receive justice