Basseterre, St. Kitts – More than 200 children are currently participating in the inaugural Police Summer Youth Camp being held at the Dr. William Connor Primary School. The camp runs Aug. 14-27 and covers a wide ranging of topics for the participants.

One of the organisers for the march, Officer Lauston Percival, indicated that the camp will feature two weeks of packed activities. “We have presentations geared toward education of young [people] on sexual abuse, bullying, children’s rights and presentations from Dr. Neals Chitan,” Percival said. “We have inmates coming from Her Majestiy’s Prison to speak on life inside the prison. We would also have an officer who is going to tell us from the officer’s perspective from inside there.”

A trip to the lawn at Frigate Bay and a trip to Nevis are also in the cards.

Percival said it is their hope to keep in touch with the participants at the end of the camp through year-round community groups. “From here, we are starting community groups,” he said. “This is just the start of a lot of things, I can assure you that. We are going to be starting community groups with these little ones we see here. We just don’t want the children to come here every summer; we want to keep in touch with the children.”

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, William Vincent Hodge, commended the officers for their work. “I look back on many scores of years and think of how the police officers used to operate then,” he said. “They were [people] who lived amongst us in communities. They lived in the police stations in the barracks, but they were very much integrated within the life of the community. They attended community churches. They belonged to community groups, including sport groups like cricket clubs and football teams. They visited schools. They were always frequently seen on the streets and for me that is a great part of community policing, where the police officers are very much integrated into the life of the community.”

He added that culture has been changed and there are now deliberate attempts to reintegrate police officers into communities.

“Today, that has somewhat changed and I think that from what we are hearing and seeing, that it is coming back again,” he said. “There are deliberate attempts to reintegrate police officers into the life of the community. That is a welcomed phenomenon that we would like to see continued.”

The prime minister and minister of national security, the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris, thanked the police for demonstrating that together as a team “we can make St. Kitts and Nevis what make we wish for it to be,” he said. “A country of peace and prosperity – for us to achieve that, we have to do it as a team. All hands on deck, and so I commend the civilians from the various communities who were recognized this morning for their good cooperation.”

Harris added that there is need for peace and prosperity for the generations to come, as was in the past.

“This generation of young people deserve that same peaceful environment in St Kitts and Nevis as many of us have enjoyed in the past,” he said. “Our efforts today are as they ought to be about consecrating the future, … and we do so by bringing our young people on board early and showing them the right options, so that they can make the right choices.”

He also congratulated the parents who saw it fit to ensure their children are involved and implored the church to do more to help curb the crime issue. “The church must be doing more and they must come up more interesting programmes that will help to anchor our young people,” he said.