Recently appointed Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP), Multi-country Office for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), with full responsibilities for St. Kitts and Nevis, Mr. Magdy Martinez-Soliman, added words of commendation for the positive outcomes of the law enforcement initiatives in the twin island Federation.
“Something good is happening. Somebody is doing things ok. Somebody is getting the policy right and somebody in the police [force] is doing their job right as well,” he said in a sit-down interview with the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service.
Saying the office of the UNDP had prior concerns regarding crime in St. Kitts and Nevis he noted that the Federation had reversed that trend in the last year,
“Last year the trend had started to improve, and over the past nine months we have had clear reduction in serious crime, murders in particular, and therefore a clear reduction of the trend of increase of the carceral population,” he explained.
Since February of this year, the Ministry of National Security and an Engagement Team of citizens have been working closely with gang members who had indicated to police they wanted to put an end to the violence.
This gave birth to what is now called the Peace Initiative introduced in March 2019 to help gang members transition from lives of crime to productive lifestyles through alternative ventures such as agricultural production, construction, entrepreneurship, and other activities.
The initiative resulted in a marked decline in the number of homicides and non-fatal shootings committed in the Federation for the period March 1 to Aug. 26. The most notable success of this initiative to date was recorded when gang members voluntarily surrendered 30 illegal firearms and more than 70 rounds of ammunition to the police.
Moreover, a team of representatives from the offices of the United States Embassy and the British National Crime Agency (NCA) — which are responsible for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean — and the Royal Barbados Police Force visited the Federation in August to examine the success of the current police initiative to curb gang violence.