St Vincent Opposition Minister Wants Regional, International Help To Address Crime Situation

(CMC) – St Vincent and the Grenadines’ main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) is calling on the Government to seek regional and international assistance in dealing with an upsurge in crime in the country.

St Vincent and the Grenadines has recorded eight murders so far this year, and in a statement earlier this week, the NDP said “crime is out of hand” and that the island is on course to break the 2022 homicide record of 42.

Opposition spokesperson on national security, St Clair Leacock, who is also calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, said assistance could come from the Barbados-based Regional Security System (RSS), a Caribbean Community (Caricom) agency, which was created out of a need for a collective response to security threats, which were impacting the stability of the region in the early 1970s and 1980s.

“I felt that in addition to the call for his (Gonsalves) resignation is that St Vincent needed to go outside of its borders, and request assistance from the Regional Security System that they should come into St Vincent and turn the country up,” Leacock, who is an NDP vice-president said.

“Because the stop and searches and the placement of mobile stations, important as it is, needs to be more widespread. And it needs to be deepened,” Leacock said, adding it needs to be a day-to-day job for the Minister of National Security to be on the bridge.

The minister did concede, however, stating that there have been some positive results evidenced by certain communities that have been under tighter management.

But he said despite the police implementing a 24-hour presence in some communities, not all areas are benefiting from that policy.

“I do not want to call and put mouth on other people’s community but obviously, we need some assistance from the Regional Security System,” Leacock said.

He added that there are many unsolved killings, with the country’s police commission announcing that police brought charges in 10 to 12 of the 42 homicides committed last year.

“There are still too many unsolved murders. So, with respect to that, we still need to ask for international help from Interpol, the FBI, or whoever we figure are sufficiently resourced to come and help us,” Leacock said.

“Clearly, we are headed in the wrong direction. But we are yet to hear of a plan to fight crime from the current regime, including the Commissioner of Police. A refusal to acknowledge the depth of this crisis shows that they are overwhelmed by it and lack solutions,” the NDP said.

The NDP further described the crime situation in St Vincent and the Grenadines as “a national crisis that requires a national response”.

“Therefore, the New Democratic Party is renewing our call for the ULP (Unity Labour Party) administration to collaborate with us and other social partners in the development and implementation of strategies to address the crime epidemic,” the party said.