POLICE HIGH COMMAND HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE TO ADDRESS RISING CRIME

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By Lesroy W. Williams

Observer Reporter

lesroywilliams@thestkittsnevisobserver.com

(Basseterre, St. Kitts)—The Police High Command held a press conference at the Police Training School at Pond’s Pasture, Basseterre on July 22 to address the enigma of crime in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

The Police High Command includes Austin Williams, Commissioner of Police, Joseph Liburd, Assistant Commissioner and Stafford Liburd, Deputy Commissioner of Police. In attendance were senior police officers and members of the press. Inspector Cromwell Henry, the Public Relations Officer for the Police chaired the proceedings.

The Police are up to their neck in addressing the mayhem in the spiraling crime rate in the Federation.  Crimes on the increase include gun and gang-related murders, possession of illegal firearms and ammunition, robbery, drug possession and trafficking, traffic violations, rape and indecent assault amongst others.

The Federation has recorded a record breaking number of 13 homicides for the year, mostly among the youths. The Police are having great difficulty in the arrest and charging of persons for these murders because people are afraid to come forward with information and in some instances there is a conspiracy of silence.

Given the present situation of the spiraling crime situation, the Police are busy trying to serve and protect the citizens of this Federation despite the gargantuan challenges.

It is in this vein that the Police High Command resumed their town hall meetings on July 16 at the St. Peter’s Community Center with the aims of re-assuring the public that crime is not out of control, promoting a forum to interact with the community, getting feedback from the community on Police’s performance in the community and getting suggestions for improvement in the service to the community.

“The world and the region have seen phenomenal increases in deviant behavior and crime.  The region has had its share of both traditional and non-traditional crime and antisocial behavior.  All of which threatens our development and growth,” Commissioner Williams said in his introductory remarks at the press conference.

“The purpose of this press conference therefore, is to inform the public of the efforts of the Royal St. Christopher-Nevis Police Force in dealing with crime in the Federation. The Police Force is committed to protecting the citizens and residents of the Federation, and maintaining public order and security.  We remain committed notwithstanding the demands on Police resources as the country develops.  These development and changes in society presents challenges for which we are concerned,” Commissioner Williams stated.   The Commissioner said that community policing is the philosophy of the Police Force which means working with and through the community to achieve the shared goal of a safer community.

He outlined some of the challenges of the Police as an increase in antisocial behavior and violent crimes among youth, an increased number of social and community activities, especially festivals which place more demand on the Police, increased number of international events, increased tourism development, porous borders, forensic capability and technology challenges and increased vehicle population.

“Despite our efforts, reported crime in the Federation for the first half of 2008 compared to the same period last year, shows an increase of 11%.  However, there were 116 crimes against the person reported in the first half of 2007, compared to 112 for the same period in 2008, a decrease of 3%.  29% of all reported crimes were solved,” the Commissioner noted.

The Commissioner said in his report that despite the many challenges there were some successes such as the seizure of 24 illegal firearms and over 1600 rounds of ammunition in the first half of 2008 compared to 21 firearms and 315 rounds of ammunition in all of 2007; destroying over 14,477 marijuana plants throughout the Federation, ranging in height from seedlings to 10ft, compared to 10,000 plants for the same period in 2007; The issuance of 1,421 tickets for traffic violations for the first half of 2008 compared to 1,318 for the same period in 2007.

“We have also achieved a 38% detection rate in murders. It is important to note that this is 5% better than the internationally accepted standard. However, we are not satisfied with this and are working to improve our detection rate, but prevention of crime remains our main objective.   It is important to note that over 95% of our criminal cases at the High Court, ended in convictions.  In this assizes we have had a 100% conviction rate in murder cases.  Let me take this opportunity to thank all those who made this possible, the community, our Police Investigators, witnesses and the prosecution team, both at the Magistrate and High Courts level,” the Commissioner said.

The Commissioner said that in order to stem the rising crime rate among our youth, the Police started a Police Boys Club in November 2007 with 12 boys which now boasts 100 boys, 80 in St. Kitts and 20 in Nevis to give male youths an alternative to crime and teach them life skills to ensure they grow up to be productive citizens.

The Commissioner pledged that the Police will continue to work with the community in the fight against crime.

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