Unfortunately, things have fallen apart

Call it a time warp. Or perhaps, a black hole. A bad dream could suffice. Maybe some in authority in Barbados are trying their best to mimic Rip Van Winkle.

Whatever is the scenario, the present crime situation seems likely to get worse in Barbados before it gets better. Our country’s hierarchy continues to tiptoe around several issues related to crime, especially those where illegal drugs, unlawful gun possession and murder are inter-connected.

There are sociologists and other academics who rightfully suggest that there is a connection between poverty and crime; unemployment and crime; poor parental guidance and crime; and lack of education and crime. But away from the textbooks, manuscripts and journals, there are simply persons bent on criminality irrespective of the social conditions that might or might not favour their participation in productive, lawful social interaction.

There is a sufficiency of evidence in Barbados to suggest that the violent crime presently affecting the island does not rest solely at the doors of the poor and uneducated. Again, we say, there are some among us bent on criminality because of the immense wealth that can be gained.

But there is something much more distressing.

Late Barbadian legal luminary Sir Roy Marshall had this to say in March 2011. “One of my constant preoccupations is the state of the administration of justice in Barbados, and for that matter, much of the Caribbean. To be brutally frank, I think our present system has deteriorated to a point that is embarrassing,” he said.

One now simply has to follow what occurs on a daily basis in Barbados to appreciate the prophetic wisdom of Sir Roy.

Let’s look at the crime situation. If criminals are running rampant on our streets, then one of the main responses ought to be the detection, arrest, prosecution and punishment – if found guilty – of these offenders. But what is it that is happening?

To the credit of the Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith and members of the Royal Barbados Police Force, detection and arrests are being made. In fact, the success rate in these two areas over the past two to three years has been phenomenal. The Royal Barbados Police Force, according to reports, have a successful detection and arrest rate as it relates to very serious crimes, inclusive of but not confined to murder, of more than 90 per cent. But then, sadly, things seem to fall apart. And while the police force is to blame in some instances, our overall judicial systems are equally culpable.

Sadly, Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson has become akin to a stuck record with excuses, promises, suggestions, excuses, promises, suggestions, and then more excuses. In 2011 when he assumed office the promise was to implement measures to deal with the backlog of cases. Five years later and the backlog has seemingly got worse.

Recently he highlighted measures in distant places such as Singapore, including computerization which had assisted in easing the backlog of cases. He spoke of the desire to implement similar strategies in Barbados. He pointed to the introduction of legislation to facilitate paper committals as a measure to ease the burden on the magistrates’ courts as it related to preliminary hearings. However, he lamented that the backlog had shifted from the magistrates’ courts to the Supreme Court. He also spoke of the shortage of judges.

Those were the excuses, explanations, suggestions and promises. But again we ask: What has been done since assuming office to improve the administration of justice in Barbados?

We mean our Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite no disrespect, but we are sure that he is aware that platitudes and hollow speak add nothing to the fight against crime.

Speaking to the media after the recent ceremony to mark the commencement of the legal year 2016-2017, Mr Brathwaite urged legal authorities to go into communities where guns are stashed and seize them. He also said that the police force needed to track and respond to how firearms were being smuggled into the country. This was banality on stilts.

The Royal Barbados Police Force has been going into communities and seizing guns and apprehending felons. They have not only been responding to how firearms have been smuggled into Barbados, they have identified the department and officials who seem likely to be facilitating such unlawful entry. But surveillance cameras still remain absent from certain strategic areas in our ports of call.

Our bail laws still accommodate the 21st century phenomenon in Barbados of repeat murder accused being on the streets and in some cases bailed murder accused returning to the court with additional murder charges. Perhaps, this is the time to review our Bail Act. The discretion of judges with respect to bail applications for murder appears to be leaving a lot to be desired and not really in the interest of the wider law-abiding society.

And at some stage there must be an enquiry into the police force as it relates to criminal case files. Too many serious cases are being dismissed on a weekly basis because files cannot be found. According to reports files have disappeared from the Court Prosecutors Office, and in some instances these relate to drug charges. One prominent Bridgetown businessman, we are reliably informed, has not had his drug case started because the relevant file has walked away from Central Police Station.

Perhaps there is a reason why accused murderers and drug dealers smile while on their way to and from our law courts. They also recognize what Sir Roy articulated in 2011.

12 Responses to Unfortunately, things have fallen apart

  1. june September 8, 2016 at 1:12 am

    Spot on!

  2. Wayne Webster September 8, 2016 at 7:42 am

    One of the BEST editorials I have read in years. Send it to those you mentioned…TOPS. Sir Roy was indeed prophetic. Thanks.

  3. lil Bow Peek September 8, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    It’s simple put camera in the seaports, airport and anywhere international traffic enters Barbados. It’s not Rocket Science!!! See something Record something!!!

  4. Just saying September 8, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    No mention of corrupt police officers politicians that have no integrity and a slavery mentally of those in authority.

  5. eddy murray September 8, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    Brother come to the top of the class.

  6. BaJan boy September 8, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    Excellent editorial unfortunately Freundel ain’t going read it and Adriel either his state or his intellect or lack there of will hinder him from understanding it. He can get the half dead Minister Sherlock Holmes to interpret it for him..

  7. Sharon Bradford September 9, 2016 at 5:46 am

    Barbados is such a beautiful island and I love coming for holidays. However this was marred after my friend and I were robbed in April this year. My friend was cut with a machete. We co operated fully with the police who assured us the culprits would be caught. I was NOT impressed with Holetown police who seemed to have a very laid back approach they didn’t even ask if we wanted a glass of water. I had to contact the consulate as raga edging getting copies of our statements and even then when I went they didn’t know what I wanted. I can assure you they did when I gave them 2 hours to get it sorted. Since my return nothing has been done at all. I emailed various people and am still waiting replies. Tourists play a large part of the economy but when this happens then it will affect everybody. So far I have not commentated in the media regarding my experience but I’m getting to the point where public media places may well give those that need it a kick up the rear. Will I return hell yes those two morons that attached us will not win

  8. Lioness in wait September 9, 2016 at 9:01 am

    Very nicely put but all I’m praying is that they go into the communities where they know fuh sure guns are being kept not where they BELIEVE guns are being kept, cause this is one mother who will not allow anything to happen to her son…remember that

  9. Tony Webster September 9, 2016 at 11:38 am


  10. Tony Webster September 9, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Wow! I wish Imight hold the I.P. rights to “Banality of stilts” (reproduced without written permission) but at least giving implied attribution, and in any case, comforted that any legal action which the rightfull owner might take against me, would take longer to reach the Courts than my allotted remaining time here on this (formerly) Blessed Rock.
    If pressed, I offer to swap with the author, equal rights to my own version: “Turpitude on steroids”, or even “Catatonicity on coke” . Yes, as in coca-cola.

  11. Michelle small September 10, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Excellent writing techniques and to the point. I enjoyed the language and facts.. this article is one to treasure it should be reprinted in 2017.

  12. Chris Barnes September 10, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    So very accurate… Frustratingly accurate.. Our CJ has not performed as he said he would. Either the lawyers found a way of strangling him or the effort was too much. The CLICO and BALICO matters are still blowing in the wind. It is alleged that the wife of a major manipulator of CLICO’s money transactions has been removed, protected, whatever from any lawsuit which may come down in the recovery of monies. The legality and ethics of this are surely questionable.


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