As stakeholders met to reason on how best to deal with crime at the much talked about opposition-proposed crime symposium on Friday, Nov. 24, authorities have reported an increase in various categories of crime in Saint Lucia for 2017.
Acting Superintendent of Police in charge of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) press unit, Elvis Thomas, said at the symposium that January to September 2017 saw the highest detection rate of 56 percent of accepted crimes.
He said that the highest number of cases came under summary offenses at 55 percent and offenses against property stood at 23 percent. The crimes against persons category recorded 16 percent. These three mentioned groups makes up 94 percent of total crimes on the island. The north has recorded 36 percent of that total amount. The south has 33 percent and the central segment of the island recorded 31 percent.
Firearm-related offenses increased in 2017, although they have shown fluctuations between 2013 and 2017. The year with the most offenses of that nature was 2014 and the lowest year was 2015.
The total number of murders for 2017 is 54.
Meanwhile, National Security Minister gave the assurance that the symposium would not just be all talk and was optimistic that some solid recommendations would come out of the symposium.
“I understand what’s happening. I empathise with a lot of persons. I have been in the crime fighting position before. I am now a minister and I think that I have a job to be done but I cannot do it alone. The days for persons believing that we are the repository of all information and ideas, I don’t ascribe to that at all. So this why I took the idea from the Honorable Phillip J. Pierre when he mooted it in the House of Assembly….so this is my motivation. So I want to thank the Honourable Philip J. Pierre for giving me the idea and I do hope and pray that at the end of today that we will come out with recommendations that we can implement for the betterment of St. Lucia,” he added.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Philip J. Pierre said the symposium serves as a powerful statement in the fight against crime.
“We must be truthful; we cannot reduce crime if we do not observe the law and the spirit of the law. We must end stigmatisation of people because of their place of residence or their beliefs or affiliations. A critical starting point is that there is a clear signal that we are prepared to be serious in fighting crime. This gathering can be a powerful statement but must never be for the sake of optics or photo-ops or show for talking point. It must be a serious engagement [and] a determined effort to bring out sections of the community together to study the problems and share thoughts and ideas, he said.
Economic Development Minister Guy Joseph, who represented the Prime Minister Allen Chastanet at the forum, said that respect for police and the law is important in reducing crime.
“As a child growing up, when you saw a uniformed police officer, you conducted yourself in a particular manner. The society is a different society today. Obscene language has become the order of the day. And it has almost become a part of the acceptable vocabulary in St. Lucia. And we tolerate and … accept these things as if they mean nothing…. Whether you like a police office or not, his uniform demands a certain measure of respect that must be shown,” Joseph said, adding that a lack of respect of police will make it difficult to enforce the law.