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Top cop wants tighter border controls

The country’s top law enforcement official is again pointing an accusing finger at Customs officials for allowing illegal guns to enter the country without detection.

Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith told Barbados TODAY in an interview this morning that illegal weapons continued to make their way onto the streets of Barbados via legal ports of entry.

And Griffith expressed frustration that the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) did not enjoy the full cooperation of border security officials, including the Customs & Excise Department, as it sought to crack down on illegal firearms entering the island.

“We are still aware that weapons, firearms, are entering through our borders and that is not a secret. And so, we have to continue and strive for better cooperation and collaboration at our borders,” the top cop said.

During a news conference at the RBPF headquarters on Roebuck Street, Bridgetown last August, Griffith spoke of an “untenable situation” where persons charged with protecting the island’s borders might have been assisting with the smuggling of illegal guns into the country, either wittingly or unwittingly.

“From an investigative view point, it is clear that there is an abundance of high calibre weapons and large quantities of available ammunition on the streets. What is also clear is that [those] weapons are not lawfully manufactured in Barbados and the wider region, so they are being smuggled into the island. Our intelligence suggests they are coming through legitimate ports of entry, either assisted by officials, or not detected by them at our borders,” Griffith said at the time.

“This is an untenable situation which has to be addressed if we are to stem the flow of these weapons.”

Those comments had angered the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), which felt then that customs officers had been unfairly targeted. The union, which represents the main border security officials at the ports, had described the commissioner’s comments as “inflammatory and without basis”.

“If police intelligence suggests that these guns are coming through legitimate ports of entry, then officials should be identified and charged for this illegal activity,” the NUPW said then in a statement.

“The union considers the commissioner’s statements to be inflammatory and without basis; and believe they only serve to tarnish the reputations and integrity of all Customs officers.”

Griffith stuck to his guns today, insisting that “until we get that kind of close relationship” with Customs the country would continue to face difficulties in relation to gun-related crimes.

Asked why the desired level of cooperation was not forthcoming, he said, “I am not so sure that their emphasis is the same as ours [as the lead agency responsible for fighting crime].”

The police chief also held on to his position that gun amnesty would not work because those who possessed illegal firearms had no interest in parting with them.

“That’s not their forte; they want to get more firearms. I am not convinced that amnesty will do anything to alleviate the current situation that we have,” he said.

Griffith, who has just returned from an Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police conference in Suriname, said gun crimes and the porous nature of the borders were hot button topics.

“They are all struggling with gun-related crimes. So, we have concerns, yet I don’t think we are anywhere at the magnitude of some of the other sister countries. So I am happy to say that we are doing some things that are working,” Griffith told Barbados TODAY.

Earlier, the police chief had restated his contention that overall crime was down, including murders, rapes, robberies, crime against visitors and all other major categories of crime.

Speaking at RBPF headquarters during the handover of Segways valued at $80,000 by the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association to assist with patrolling boardwalks, Griffith did not give any statistical evidence to back up his contention.

The top cop also addressed the contentious issue of missing files that result in delays in matters going before the court, explaining the difficulties involved in preparing such files.

“The fact of the matter is if you are solving a lot of matters, a lot of files are there to be completed as well. So the same officers who are out there doing their best to bring perpetrators of crime to justice, they have to come back and make sure they prepare those files and prepare them properly,” Griffith said.

So far this year, there have been no official statistics on crime levels, but at the start of this year the Acting Commissioner acknowledged there was an increase in crime last year when compared to 2014, with the rise partly attributed to gun-related violence.

6 Responses to Unmanned

  1. jrsmith June 7, 2016 at 4:16 am

    How could you not be on the side of our (Acting Commissionaire) when guns are not being found at (Sir Grantley), but yet still the island is awash with guns , the Commissionaire cant do much himself because criminals in Barbados is being protected, but he should have being able to do what they do in the (UK), investigate people who are living above they means.

    All goods entering Barbados in containers or not should be x-rayed, for me I do believe they is massive corruption at the (Barbados Port…things would only change when people is being arrested and cart of to DODDS..

  2. Alex Alleyne June 7, 2016 at 5:59 am

    If the persons at the TOP were interested about the guns and not making a PROFIT from them , we would not be reading this. CUSTOMS are not the (only) problem. Its takes money to make money. The fools in the streets that killing out each other are the ones with only CHUMP change.
    So sad to be reading every day people dropping like flies.

  3. Donild Trimp June 7, 2016 at 10:01 am

    I congratulate the ACP for telling it like it is.

    There is no secret how the guns and ammunition are getting into Barbados. That is where the focus must be right now, cutting off the supply.

    Barbados needs a few more Dirty Harry’s to deal with the ignorant youths who don’t want to work but feel comfortable copying the gangsta lifestyle and philosophy.

    The Police can only do so much.

  4. Observer June 7, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    You might be looking at the wrong people you have yachts sailing right up in people dining room i ain’t hear any mention of the rich folks in that part of the world but nooo pick on the customs guy’s pleaseee

    • Leroy June 7, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      Correct, a yacht and its owner can transit many more weapons and dope than most others.
      I believe most are coming in 40ft containers and yachts. Very few through luggage at GAIA bc too many screeners on leaving and arriving at airports, sea port is best.

  5. BoBoTheClown June 7, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Well ,well. If the Chief is not now saying exactly what BOBO said about a month ago i’ll be damned .
    If the police and Custom cannot work together to help to eradicate the flow of weapons entering Barbados then, we might as well collectively “take what we get”.
    I’ve said it before and i’ll surely say it again enough is not being done to intercept the flow of weapons through the Port or in my humble opinion the smuggling into the Country via so called pleasure crafts .
    If I was the AG ,I would authorize shift changes at Ports of entry without a days warning,or even an hours warning which would prevent importers from knowing when Harry ,Dick ,or Tom is working in any particular area. By doing that one would see an increase in weapon seizures, and arrest at the Sea Port, and at the Airport. It would even help if Officers were constantly moved
    around .
    It is not far fetched to believe that some Officers at the Airport are working with Red caps to evade the system. I’ve seen it happened else where, and I am sure there is a huge possibility that it is happening right before our eyes in Barbados.
    I suppose too, if you are very rich, you can, like Observer have said have your pleasure Craft (Yacht) head straight into Westmorland ,and make a call to Customs with a verbal declaration. By doing so, you can evade paying any or all Custom Duty and Taxes on any thing ,and at the same time smuggle prohibited items ,whether it be weapons or Narcotics as you are cleared basically on an honor system .
    the Telephone. So that gives you the license to smuggle any kind of contraband you care to bring into the Country.


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