Dr. Sharon Gopaul-McNicol, a Clinical and Forensic Psychologist with over 30 years of experience, believes the government’s multi-cultural/multi-modal/multi-systems grassroots model structure for encouraging and assisting gang members to exit gangs has the potential to be the blueprint for crime prevention programmes across the Caribbean.
Those remarks came while speaking at a press conference hosted by the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force on Tuesday. Dr. Gopaul-McNicol, now working with the Ministry of National Security on a pro bono basis to help build out of this programme, said over the last few decades the response to crime and violence has primarily been a military approach.
“This is the first time that a country in the region understood that we had to go beyond the military approach and embrace a multi-modal/multi-systems [model], meaning many modes and many systems. You cannot address social conditions that are driven by problems born within the communities with a military approach and hence this entire model was born,” she said.
Dr. Gopaul-McNicol said what makes the administration’s strategy unique is that it is the first time that a government committed to all the layers and levels necessary for success
“So, when the multi-systems approach came, the first thing that has to happen is that the government has to be committed and it requires the involvement of various ministries within this administration and then the second thing is that the persons who are involved in the criminal activities…it’s important that these youngsters are able to trust the system that is asking them to change their lives, and [the government is] going to create alternative avenues for you to live outside of the criminal world,” she said.
Dr. Gopaul-McNicol said the recent turnover of illegal firearms to the police force by gang members through a third party is a clear indication that these individuals are in fact trusting the system being put in place to eradicate social ills.
The overarching goal of the multi-systems grassroots model is to build Community Teams in different geographical areas around St. Kitts and Nevis,
Each team consists of community workers who are born and or reside within the communities and are familiar with the ‘happenings’ in a particular community, religious leaders, community leaders, youth leaders, community police officers, and representatives of Political parties.