With the number of homicides for the year already at 28, just three less than the total number of murders for 2016, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has said that his administration is taking a multi-faceted approach to addressing the crime situation in Saint Lucia.
He said that improvements in the judicial system to boost crimefighting abilities, building relationships with churches and added community youth and sports initiatives are some of the measures currently being explored by government to deal with crime.
“We have to start with the judicial system. We feel that too many people are committing crimes and it takes too long to bring them to justice. So I think we’ve seen some improvement since the DPP has been there. We want to now be able to house the judicial system properly,” he said.
According to Chastanet, the working condition of judges is also an area of focus.
“Judges do not even have proper chambers. They don’t have enough supporting staff,” he said, adding that government is currently seeking to expand services at the re-opened forensics lab, “because if people are gonna commit crimes we have to be able to convict them.”
The prime minister said that government has made allocations for additional police vehicles which will be sourced through money the police have seized.
He added, “The other big one really is that, once we can get the forensic lab going and we can get the judicial system working, is to continue to beef up the training of our policemen. So in the area of investigation- [it is] an area where we believe that we are weak in.”
Chastanet also revealed that the border patrol is currently being consolidated to now allow 71 policemen who were immigration officers to come back into the force.
With regard to the youth and society, the prime minister said that afterschool programmes which will allow youngsters to have somewhere to go after school, and the development of sporting facilities, is being seriously considered, although there is no hasty remedy to a morally eroded society.
“The idea is to build back up the clubs system in St. Lucia at the primary [and] secondary school level. To support the development of more sporting and recreational facilities for young people in the communities and make sure they are properly financed; [also] the introduction of the creative industries…,” he said.
“We’re also reaching to the churches and to families. We’ve got to bring back the family life. This is a long-term solution. There is no quick fix,” he said.