By John Denny
(Charlestown, Nevis) – It was standing room only at a lecture addressing crime given by Professor Whitman Browne on Aug. 6 at the Red Cross building. Members of the public, clergy, press and government listened and responded to the professor’s remarks. In a surprising show of bipartisanship, the leaders of both the Nevis Reformation Party and the Concerned Citizens Movement were present.
Premier Joseph Parry opened the meeting by announcing that a number of video surveillance cameras are being installed in Charlestown. The Director of the Nevis Disaster Management Unit, Lester Blackett, had met resistance from the public for installing the cameras, citing privacy concerns, the premier said.
“If they are not installed now they will be soon,” said the premier. “Those wanting privacy, such as young lovers, will have to learn to be more discreet when they are downtown.”
Video surveillance has been implemented on other islands in the Caribbean with noticeable positive results and the sacrifice of privacy for the sake of security is worth the trade, he said.
“A small group of people from two or three parts of the island have decided they are going to terrorize the people of Nevis,” said Mr. Parry. “Crime must stop. We need to be a community that stands up and takes responsibility and not let the criminals get away with this.”
The theme of the lecture was “Curtailing criminality in the Caribbean.”
According to Professor Browne, some of the causes for the rise in crime in the region are because of a growing materialism and callousness towards crime and violence.
“The murder rate of the Caribbean is four times that of the United States,” he said. “If you think criminality is going away, it isn’t. If you feel it is someone else’s problem, it isn’t. If we don’t respond to this problem, (the criminals) will end up dominating us.”
Professor went on to say that crime needs to be addressed from a multi-pronged approach including family, education and churches. Mention was also made as to the impact the double homicide has had on Antigua.
“If we don’t change this, the perception will become that the Caribbean is a vicious place and (the tourists) will stop coming,” he said.