The Opposition United Workers Party (UWP) is calling on the Saint Lucia Labour Party-led (SLP) Government, to “Articulate a Plan to Fight Crime”, with former Cabinet Minister Lennard ‘Spider’ Montoute calling for the government to “take the right steps” and Bradley Felix telling it to “lead” instead of “passing the buck” on to the police.
The former Gros Islet MP and Choiseul-Saltibus MP spoke just days ahead of the presentation of the 2022-2023 Budget by Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre.
Already the new Labour administration has secured eleven new vehicles this year to assist the police in crime-fighting. It has also upgraded the Forensic Lab to assist in the processing of evidence, crucial for the expeditious handling of court cases.
According to a government source, more assistance is on its way for the police in the 2022/2023 budget to be presented next week.
The UWP opposition, however, insists that more can be done. Members of the government are finding it difficult to seriously accept the UWP position, given what it considers the poor performance of previous UWP governments on crime.
According to defenders of the current government, it was under the watch of a previous UWP administration that extrajudicial killings by the police were committed, leading to the infamous IMPACS Report, which resulted in punitive sanctions against Saint Lucia by the US.
And under the last UWP administration (2016-2021), homicides increased from 70 in 2017, to 74 in 2021.
Yet in a mere six months in opposition, Allen Chastanet, the now leader of the opposition, had discovered the prescription for fighting crime and had advised the new government accordingly, back in December last year.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Pierre, undeterred by the opposition voices, has continued to provide the assurance that he will continue working with his Caricom counterparts in this battle against crime, now affecting all countries within the region, to bring the scourge of crime and violence under control.
As Minister for National Security, Prime Minister Pierre has also been meeting with the leadership of the Police Force, as has Minister for Home Affairs Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte, to create better and stronger lines of communication to facilitate better arrangements for more government help.
Both the Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister have also underlined, as have all concerned citizens, that the Police and the Government alone cannot solve the gun and gang crime gripping the nation, all insisting that it will take as much cooperation from members of the public to cause any dent in the crime rate.
Some observers believe that the UWP’s failure to handle the crime wave while in government may have contributed to its recent embarrassing defeat at the polls on July 26 last year.