A national crime symposium which is being organised by Minister of National Security Hermangild Francis, will take place on November 24, 2017.
That forum will bring together both private and public sector individuals and organisations to discuss possible solutions to the growing crime problem in St. Lucia.
While some are hopeful that this level of discussion will be extremely beneficial, others are not so sure if action will follow the dialogues.
Former Police Commissioner Cuthbert Phillip said that while he is in favour of the symposium, if the proposed solutions are not undertaken with urgency, there will be no real results from the forum.
“We’ve had a number of these things coming in, you know. Anytime you have your figures in crime… going up we always want this consultation with all parties concerned. But we have to take the thing seriously and do what we have to do, and do it quickly,” he said.
“…Sometimes we have to go back into history. Let us see what happened the last time. We had it [the symposium] what did we do? Did it work [or] didn’t it work? We have to change what we did in the past and let us come up with solutions which other people in other parts maybe have found to be working successfully for them,” he said.
Phillip believes that St. Lucia should follow the lead of other countries which have experienced similar problems with crime.
“There are countries in the world which have been able to deal with their crime situation and a number of people are speaking about this. But as everybody is saying this is a whole process- our education system, the communities, and everything [including] how the children are being raised. All these things have to be taken into consideration,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Francis said that through the symposium, government is hoping to gain ideas on how to address criminality in St. Lucia.
“Crime is a major issue for not only Saint Lucia [but] for the Caribbean. We need to take a holistic look at it and that is why I am trying to have a symposium on the 24th of this month to bring in persons who can give the government some ideas as to how we can solve it. It’s not gonna be easy. There are gonna be social issues. There are gonna be issues of facilities…of equipment and all these sort of things,” he said.
Francis said that the prime minister has given the assurance that government will provide the necessary tools needed to fight crime.
“All I can tell you is that I’ve spoken to the prime minister and he is very serious about equipping the police and the forensic lab as much and as quickly as possible to solve crime,” he stated.
Among those who will attend the symposium are the churches, opposition, business community and media. The forum was proposed by Opposition Leader Phillip J. Pierre recently.
A similar symposium was held in 2011 under former prime minister Stephenson King’s rule. A wide range of stakeholders had gathered to deliberate on a national crime prevention strategy for St. Lucia.
St. Lucia has recorded 52 homicides for the year 2017, with one of the latest being the gruesome slaying of 33-year-old mother-of-three Laborie resident, Saadia Byron earlier this week.