AG: Media to blame
Press partly the reason why crime seems on the rise, says Brathwaite
Attorney General and Minister and Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite is insisting that the recent spate of violence is not an indication of any increase in crime, or the emergence of new trends; and he is blaming the media for making it out to be worse than it is.
Speaking to reporters against the background of recent gunplay in The Ivy and the murder of a British man last weekend, Brathwaite said the media were partly responsible for the view that crime was on the increase in the island.
“You guys in the media are the cause of this. The fear of crime is as devastating as the crime itself. No matter how I use statistics to show that we are in fact down, in terms of reported crime, that [fact] is not highlighted. But let someone get stabbed in St Lawrence Gap, that’s highlighted and indicative that crime is up in the country,” he charged this morning on the sidelines of a Caribbean Basin Security Initiative Workshop at the Accra Beach Resort, in Hastings, Christ Church.
The Attorney General noted, though not going into further detail, that while there were some areas where the authorities were having “some difficulties”, they could be considered the usual locations.
He said those areas required continuous intervention to ensure that generations of individuals did not become involved in criminal activity.
“I am sure that you yourself can tick off on your hands the areas where we have had crime in this country, the areas that are still considered to be bad areas. They are not new,” he posited, while telling Barbados TODAY that Government was taking a multi-ministry approach to tackling crime on the island.
Drawing reference to work being done by Government agencies to address the issue, Brathwaite noted that the Ministry of Social Care had a programme that looked at generational poverty “and they are saying that what we need to do is ensure that we need to bring households along”.
“You would have heard me say over the last couple of years that I no longer speak of at-risk youth. I speak about at-risk families, because quite often when you dive down, there are some issues within the family structure. So we are tackling that. We are trying to offer more vocational programmes. When individuals get involved in crime, we are trying our best to give them tools,” he said.
“If you were to go into the prisons you will see exactly what I am saying, in terms of this not only being just a police issue.
“In prison, a significant number of these youngsters have had challenges in the school system; so we then need to look at the school system to see what has gone wrong in terms of these individuals. Could they have been helped before? Could we have identified the problematic youngsters before and intervened and helped them? That again is what we are doing,” he said.
The minister also hinted at an initiative in the works under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, but declined further comment, only stating that a decision had been taken to have more interventions with youngsters who were having problems in the more traditional school setting.
“It is an issue. We have seen that you are in a setting with 30 individuals sitting down in a classroom and you have one chap that misbehaves. Now in the primary school setting you used to bring the child up to the front so that the teacher would keep an eye on him, but when you reach secondary school you put him in the back, so you don’t have the problem,” Brathwaite noted.
“That individual is now in the back because he is problematic . . . . We cannot place him in the back. We need to take him out, see what we can do to get his attention to save him from believing that school isn’t the place to be and that it is better for him to be [out somewhere] gambling than going to school.
“There are many thing that we have to do and we have to ensure that we can address individual cases in particular.”
The Attorney General stressed that it was time to start the reform process very early.