Using the old to fight the new

NASSAU, Bahamas, October 31, 2008 – A suggestion is being made that the Caribbean build on old crime fighting strategies to develop new ones as the region struggles to fight increasing crime levels that have created other problems within Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.

It came from the Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham yesterday at the 11th Meeting of CARICOM Commissioners of Police and Military Chiefs in the Bahamas.

“This is especially important because we know that the criminals never rest. They are nothing but innovative in their determination to take what they have not earned,” he said. “Those of us who seek to protect our way of life and to promote our culture and traditions must demonstrate that our commitment to protect what is ours is greater than the desire of criminals to destroy it.”

Mr Ingraham says the situation is being driven by the drug trade, and noted that the fallout of the region being a transit area for the trafficking of dangerous drugs between North and South American has been devastating.

“Today, many of the crimes committed in our small island nations can be traced to the illicit drug traffic. These include traffic in, and use of, firearms; kidnappings; and gang violence,” he noted. “Then, there is the white collar crime associated with smuggling operations: money laundering and various forms of fraud in the financial services sector. These, together with illegal immigration, including illicit traffic in humans, have become the principal threats to the security of the Caribbean.”

The Bahamian leader said that as a result, there has been serious damage to the social fabric, a battering of traditional values and disruption of family life.

“Too many young persons have been ensnared by addiction and crime and some have had promising careers cut short. This has translated into increased criminality in our communities including dramatic increases in violent crimes against the person. In turn, increased demands are being placed upon our judicial, penal and rehabilitation agencies,” he said as he pointed to the challenges spiralling from the drug trade.

But Mr Ingraham stressed that crime is not an issue for law enforcement authorities alone, noting that to be successful in reducing criminal behaviour in the region’s countries, there must be aggressive action on several fronts.

“We must continue important work already commenced in several of our states toward providing in-depth analysis of the social and human aspects of crime. This means improving public awareness of crime and crime prevention, addressing unemployment and alleviating poverty,” he said.

In addition, Prime Minister Ingraham noted, there must be in place an adequate legislative framework, capable of responding to modern crime and criminal organisations.

He suggested that consistent action on all of these fronts will improve the region’s ability to form and direct responses to alleviate crime.