Commissioner of Police for the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force Austin Williams is defending his rank and file with regard to the low detection rate in homicides and gun-related incidents. Williams told The Observer that local law enforcement officers were doing their best to handle the escalating crime problem. “We are doing all we can. The police are not present when these shootings occur and eyewitnesses don’t come forward. That makes it even more difficult to increase convictions as criminals do not usually leave incriminating evidence behind.”When asked if guns confiscated during stop and searches and other means were being tested to establish whether they had been used in the commission of any crimes, the CoP admitted they were not. “We have not had the guns tested in that regard as it is very expensive to send off to foreign labs. Of course you cannot put a price on public safety. That is why there are plans to establish a regional lab to process evidence on a forensic basis,”he informed. Williams said they were looking to the US” Federal Bureau of Investigation and other extra-regional agencies for assistance. He also informed that St. Kitts has just acquired a machine that trained personnel could use to carry out ballistic testing. “This machine is used for forensic testing to compare bullet casings collected from crime scenes etcetera to match them to guns confiscated by police. We have equipment to collect fingerprints however fingerprinting is almost outdated. We do not have a national data bank for fingerprints and criminals know to avoid leaving them in most cases. DNA is where crime-fighting is headed. There are several sources of DNA that can be traced including blood, saliva, hair and skin cells and that increases the chances of detection in crimes and subsequent convictions.”St. Kitts recently held Regional Conference on youth crime and violence prevention and Williams said, “We are hoping for positive results from the ideas discussed during the conference.”The homicide toll for the federation stands at 13 so far this year with several non-fatal shootings also having occurred, mostly in the West Basseterre area. Police however recently announced a breakthrough in a 2005 murder that led to two young men being charged for the crime. On Friday 3rd July 2009 Amal Whyte, 24, of Trafalgar Village and Devon “Patches”Fyfield, 26, of Wades Garden were formally charged with the murder of business man Hubert Phipps on June 23rd 2005. Both men are currently serving prison sentences for attempted murder and House breaking and Larceny respectively but are expected to appear in court shortly to answer to the murder charge.