The Anglican Church today called for a strengthening of police resources and a funded study by the Cave Hill Campus into the reasons for recent crimes, as it spoke out against the increase in gun-related violence.

In a statement today, Bishop of Barbados Dr John Holder backed Advocacy and Social Justice Commission chairman John Goddard, as the church condemned the upsurge in gun crimes.

Supported by the work and research of the commission, Holder, who is also Archbishop of the West Indies, called for urgent attention to be paid to these crimes.

“As Christians, we believe that we are all made in the image of God, and are, therefore, worthy of respect. Acts of violence violate the sanctity of life, and place undue pressure on our law enforcement and health resources. Very importantly, the society loses many of its young men and women.

“We appeal to those minded to commit acts of violence to place a high value on their lives and the lives of others. Violence leads to further violence, until conditions deteriorate so much as to render peaceful living improbable.”

The church went on to state that its position was based on the premise of “unshakeable belief of the Anglican Church in the basic and well-established tenets which have served us well in the past”.

Among those tenets, Goddard indicated were, the value and sanctity of life; the need to be our brother’s keeper; replacement of the attitude of revenge with a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation; the promotion of peace and harmony amongst God’s people; the obedience of rules needed for the maintenance of good order in the society and, conduct which is pleasing to God.

“We want to applaud the heroic efforts of the Royal Barbados Police Force who risk life and limb to ensure that Barbados remains a safe place to live and to visit. We owe them a great debt of gratitude, and the Archbishop and the Commission take this opportunity to call on government to spare no effort in ensuring that the Force is adequately resourced in terms of personnel, training and equipment. At the same time, we feel that there needs to be an expansion of the community policing programme in order to promote a healthy relationship between the police and the communities across Barbados.”

Addressing the popular view which linked increased crime to a depressed economy, the church stated: “In our judgement, that is a simplistic view which the commission does not share. Indeed, the Acting Commissioner of Police, in a Press conference on Friday, October 11 , 2013, reported that ‘predatory crime, robberies and similar offences have declined by 41 per cent’; and this at a time when the recession is at its worst.”

It went on to say: “We assert that there must be other explanations for the gun violence now driving fear in the hearts of Barbadians. We see the need for a dispassionate examination of the issue, with the aim of determining reasons for the kinds and scale of crimes we are experiencing. In this regard, we suggest that the private sector fund a University of the West Indies study on the factors contributing to crime in Barbados.

“The fight to stem the rising tide of violence in our society is one which requires the effort of all Barbadians. The Archbishop and members of the Social Justice Commission, therefore, invite all persons of goodwill, regardless of religious persuasion or social class, to adopt strategies that may result in a significant reduction in abuse and violence in this land that we hold dear,” the church urged. (LB) 

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