By Steve Thomas
Observer Nevis Editor
(Charlestown, Nevis) – A fiercely determined Nevis Island Administration Premier Joseph Parry and the High Command of the Royal St. Kitts-Nevis Police met earlier this week to develop a strategy to rain hammer blows on local criminals and keep the pressure on.
On July 29, Premier Parry met with Commissioner of Police Austin Williams, Asst. Commissioner Stafford Liburd and Superintendent of Police in Nevis Samuel Seabrookes. The meeting was held in Premier Parry’s office.
The last two weeks have been relatively quiet on the crime front around Nevis following a six-week spike in criminal activity.
“We reviewed the problems over the last six weeks or so,” Premier Parry said. “Nevis has a low level of crime, but than it spiked.”
Tuesday Online Code for Issue # 718 is NUA
On June 11, a murder occurred in Charlestown, which appeared to trigger an upsurge of property crimes and armed robberies. Although on one has been charged with the murder, one man has been arrested and charged in a robbery-shooting that happened on July 11.
According to Premier Parry, the last two weeks have seen joint search operations being conducted night and day around Nevis, with help from St. Kitts. Some of the areas searched include Westbury, Low Street and Stoney Grove. Illegal drugs, weapons and ammo have been discovered in the course of the searches.
“These searches will be ongoing until things return to normal,” the premier declared in an interview with The Observer.
Three more police officers have been added to the Nevis force and four more are scheduled to come in October.
“The NIA will assist in providing barracks” and improving accommodations for the police, Premier Parry said.
For Culturama, the police have established surveillance posts to keep an eye on who enters and leaves Nevis by boat, Premier Parry said.
The effort doesn’t stop there.
Surveillance cameras will soon be installed in lower Charlestown and will be monitored at police headquarters, the premier said.
In addition, the premier said, “Extra officers will be available to Nevis on request. They will make officers available for a short time.”
The NIA also plans to pay for DNA lab work on crime investigations when it is needed, Premier Parry said.
The law enforcement efforts demonstrate an increasing sophistication on the part of the criminal element, Premier Parry said.
The premier said exaggerated reports about the crime spike in Nevis could harm the growing tourist trade and other developments.
“I want to tell the people of Nevis that we have had a quiet island all these years and we have no reason to be alarmed. There is no need for us to get on the Internet and blow out of proportion recent events,” he said. “It might be expedient, but in the long term it won’t do any good.”
The current U.S. recession has hurt 95 percent of the tourist destinations in the Caribbean, he said.
“Nevis is in that five percent” that hasn’t been hurt, he said.
On July 24, Premier Parry and other top officials went to the local business community to discuss the issue of crime. They public and private sector met at the conference room of the Nevis Credit Union, Chapel Street in Charlestown.
The panelists included Deputy Premier of Nevis, the Hon. Hensley Daniel, Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Ashley Farrell, Legal Advisor, Hon. Patrice Nisbett and Superintendent of Police in Nevis, Mr. Samuel Seabrookes.
In his opening remarks, Premier Parry noted how pleased he was to see so many business owners had responded to the call to put an end to the recent spate of criminal activity in Nevis.
“We do not want business people to be afraid or live in continuous fear of these criminals; we want them to be able to stand up and continue to run their business as usual. We can not in any way make those individuals committing the crimes feel like they have won,” he said.
During the meeting, Mr. Parry articulated several ways in which he thought the business community could assist in stemming crime on the island and suggested the idea of having members adopt a school, a community or a child and to create avenues in which young people could engage themselves positively and productively.
He reminded the audience that while the Government was committed to doing its part, the rest of the society should also play an active role, if a significant reduction and possible eradication of serious criminal activity on the island was realised.
In addition, the Premier indicated that he was actively looking into a number of different ways to reduce crime which included assistance from overseas, finding male mentors for young people (in particular the boys); the placement of data boxes at the police stations for tips/information on crime; an increase in manpower of the police force and the presence of Army soldiers on Nevis.
Premier Parry indicated he would meet in about a month to continue dialogue with the business owners, the Police and his Government.
During the forum, Superintendent Seabrookes took the opportunity to offer some guidelines for the upcoming Culturama season. He said he would ensure that a strong police presence would be available so that the public could feel safe and would hopefully deter any criminal activity from taking place.
Mr. Seabrookes also made it known that it was very important that business persons invested in surveillance equipment and to come forward with accurate information that would assist the police.
“I am going to be honest with you; in some cases an individual with evidence might have to go to Court to witness or bring forth important information. I do understand how uncomfortable that can be but in some situations it cannot be helped, if we want the criminals off the streets,” said Mr. Seabrookes
After Mr. Seabrookes’ presentation, Premier Parry opened the floor to persons to give their opinions and/or observations on the crime situation on Nevis.
Numerous business persons in attendance were able to express their feelings on the relationship between the police and the rest of the community. They all agreed that when they called the police, they either did not come or when they eventually arrived they were extremely late and they have no sympathy for the situation. The group was assured that this practice will not continue in the future.
(Some information courtesy of the Nevis Government Information Service)