Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 20, 2016 (SKNIS): Leaders from the private sector and civil society met with senior Government officials headed by Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris on Tuesday (September 20) to get an update on ongoing measures to enhance public safety.
Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable Shawn Richards; Premier of Nevis, Honourable Vance Amory and Attorney General, Honourable Vincent Byron Jr.; along with the Commissioner of Police, Ian Queeley and Commander of the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force (SKNDF), Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Wallace, met with representatives from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Hotel and Tourism Association, the Evangelical Association, the Contractors’ Association and the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
The recent addition of security personnel from the Regional Security System (RSS) to buttress local security operations was the primary topic. Prime Minister Harris said the request for RSS assistance to curb crime represents a serious commitment by his Government to reduce antisocial activities.
“We are taking a stand on behalf of the country and I feel assured that we’ll have the full backing of every right thinking person in the country,” he said, dismissing criticisms in some corners that the move is excessive.
Prime Minister Harris, who holds the ministerial portfolio for national security, stated that the addition of the RSS troops will provide relief for local officers who have been working extremely hard so that they can “renew their strength.”
He told the business and civic leaders; “you have met with the police and each time you ask about sustainability you hear the issue of manpower. When we asked the Colonel [Wallace] to put on special operations … there was a question of manpower.”
To free up soldiers to carry out some of the special duties, Dr. Harris said civilians were assigned to do the chores at the SKNDF Base at Camp Springfield that are usually performed by the men and women of the ranks.
Meanwhile, Premier Amory reassured the private sector officials that the measure does not signal any emergency plans, but rather is a response to public concerns for the Government to heighten its response to criminal elements.
“What that is doing for us is responding to the cries of the people. I have had to deal with that in Nevis,” he stated, repeating the calls by the public to seek assistance from Scotland Yard in the United Kingdom or the Federal Bureau of Investigations in the United States. “Poor security is a threat to prosperity and that is something that we cannot continue to allow to happen.”
Premier Amory added that the Cabinet had a lot of serious discussions on the decision to seek RSS assistance but in the end was focused on improving the security situation. He said that there is distrust by some in the public, who feel that information relayed to local law enforcement on criminal matters will not remain confidential. The use of RSS personnel should therefore help increase intelligence gathering and enhance another avenue to reduce crime he stated.