By Monique Washington

2016 was a year of increased homicides and guns removed from the streets of the Federation.

The year ended with 31 deaths by gunfire and a single murder conviction. This was one more murder than last year and four shy of a record 35 homicides committed in 2011, according to government statistics.

The Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police took some pride in removing 34 illegal guns off the streets compared to 21 for the previous year.  Police also pointed to the removal and destruction of hundreds of thousands of dolars worth of cannabis as part of their efforts to control crime.

In November, six illegal firearms and a quantity of ammunition were seized by members of the Special Service Unit  and the Anti-Drug Unit of the police department. The guns were found in two separate land sections in Basseterre while the guns were found beneath some bushes and dirt.

The Federation recorded a murder conviction when Jahari ‘Baddie’ Bart was found guilty of the 2011 murder of Laustin Jamie ‘Big Ship’ Williams, son of former  Commissioner of Police Austin Willians.  The 12 jurors unanimously found him guilty of murder in November.

Police have been encouraging the public to use Crime Stoppers to report crimes. The Federal government has also summoned the Barbados-based Regional Security System to confront the escalating crime situation in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Dr. Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, told the private sector, ‘We are taking a stand on behalf of the country and I feel assured we will have the backing of every right-thinking person in the country.”

The Republic of Taiwan in China has assisted with $5 million to finance the purchase and installation of closed circuit cameras across the Federation.