Too many guns
A study into gang violence commissioned by Government has confirmed a rise in the number of gangs operating here.
While the study is yet to be completed, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite told Parliament today that the early findings suggested an increasing number of gangs linked to drugs.
There has been an upsurge in gun crimes in recent months, with close to a dozen gun-related injuries and one death in the last week alone.
“We have seen that some of the violence is gang related. We are presently having a gang study done and I am told that we would have the results of that study in two months. What I am being told by the persons who are carrying out the study is that there is little doubt that we do have what seems to be an increased number of gangs,” Brathwaite disclosed while speaking on a resolution seeking approval to borrow $76 million for refurbishing and constructing new accommodation for members of the Royal Barbados Police Force [RBPF] and the magistracy over the next two years.
Government’s chief legal adviser said the local gangs were not be as organized as those in the international community, but said the increasing gun crimes were a concern to the authorities.
“We all accept that with drugs there are always guns. We are aware that individuals are not always paying for drugs with money . . . It is a matter of concern to those of us in the office of the Attorney General and certainly to members of the Royal Barbados Police Force.”
Brathwaite spoke of the constant sound of gunshots echoing at night, saying, “it needs not be an exchange of gunfire but a case of youngsters showing off their firepower or saluting the birthday of one of the boys”.
He emphasized Government’s concern, while making a strong plea to “arrest” the situation. The Attorney General also pleaded for the public’s assistance and called on his fellow MPs to get involved.
“[The Royal Barbados Police Force] cannot do it alone. We need to get the communities involved and even Members of Parliament. We cannot sit back and say that there are only certain elements in society because there is the possibility of innocent bystanders being injured. Some of us need to take the firm stand and acknowledge that if you are a leader, you must lead from up front,” Brathwaite said.
He acknowledged the stiff penalties that are included in the Firearms Act, but stressed that like all pieces of legislation, these by themselves were inadequate to address the issues.
The $76 million will be borrowed from the National Insurance Board, and part of the money will be used to construct new headquarters for the RBPF at the Pine, St Michael at a cost of $18 million and a modern police complex at Hastings, Christ Church, which will combine the old Hastings Police Station and the old Worthing Police Station, at a cost of $14.9 million.
The Minister of Home Affairs further stated that a complex to include a magistrate’s court would be constructed at Cane Garden, St Thomas at a cost of $15.3 million to house officers who are currently stationed at Holetown Police Station and the District “D” Police Station; the Male Barracks at Central Police Station in Bridgetown are to be refurbished at a cost of $1.8 million; and the old
Police Station in Black Rock, St Michael, would be refurbished to include a Family Conflict Unit, at an estimated cost is $1.4 million.
He disclosed that the officials of his ministry did not see the need for a larger police station in St Andrew since only 80 crimes were reported in the parish last year.