St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris championed closer collaboration among all sectors to identify the root causes of crime and solutions to reduce it at a one-day National Crime Reduction Symposium.
The event, organized by the Ministry of National Security and the private sector group the Coalition of Support for St Kitts and Nevis Security Initiatives, was held Thursday (Feb 10) at the Marriott Resort in Frigate Bay.
Dr. Harris explained that the symposium was also a part of the established Six Point Plan and the Crime Reduction Strategic Plan 2016 -2019.
“The Six Point Plan has one of its six broad strategies, engagement of stakeholders. The action points listed under this category include inter alia, encouraging the Ministry of Education and Social Services to reinvigorate the truancy programs, creating inter-agency teams with the ministry of Health and Public Works and in the development of victim support mechanisms. These of course, are laudable objectives.
"The Police Strategic Plan 2016-2019 has some important goals. One- their operations directorate will create a community policing plan centered around reducing gang activity. The police force will adopt a community policing philosophy and will be part of the communities it serves and consults with. It will listen to, record, and act on public information and concerns.”
He noted that community involvement in the fight against crime was crucial but enhanced police engagement had not yielded greater collaboration.
“Although some efforts in community policing have been made, community involvement in the fight against crime has not been very forthcoming at times and this of course has impacted upon the crime detection rates. Strategic and focused involvement in crime fighting efforts among civil society groups and even stakeholder government departments, apart from the security forces is required if we are to achieve desirable outcomes.
“In our planning discussions with the regional Security System (RSS) way back in August 2016, they had some recommendations which had application across the region. They had recommended that in order to properly fight crime in our Caribbean countries, we need a whole of society approach and I’m sure the gathering today reflects just that.”
The federation with a population at close to 50,000 has one of the highest homicides rates in the world, while the prosecution of criminals remains low. Over the years governments have introduces several initiatives to reduce gun crime and to win successful prosecution. Thursday's symposium aimed to re-energize responses that go deeper than merely tackling the symptoms of crime.
Consultant Neals Chitan named the event the "Uprooting Crime and Violence Symposium" and articulated what he called the 12 roots of violence.
“The twelve roots that I’m going to talk about today-mental illness, unmanaged impulses, uncontrolled confrontations, criminal deportation, addictions and compulsions, inability to deal with consequences, media, music and web influence, greed and selfishness, image and profile enhancement, hopelessness and desperation, matters of the heart, loss, grief, and hurt.”
In the afternoon session several groups were organized to examine the issues and recommendations were submitted for consideration over the coming weeks.