Don’t shoot the messenger, AG; cut the crime!

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite has been literally under the gun in recent weeks.

From the situation with Jamaican Shanique Myrie to problems of sporadic gunplay, to bottle and rock throwing in The Ivy, St Michael –– Mr Brathwaite has hardly had time to breathe, much less to think before he speaks.

It is no wonder that as the work week neared its end, he did seem to us to be a bit tongue-tied –– incoherent even –– when he was asked by reporters to weigh in on the domestic crime situation.

Said Mr Brathwaite: “You guys in the media are the cause of this [crime situation]. 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.

Seriously, Mr AG!

For starters, we think you owe the victims of crime an apology. It is insensitive to say, even to suggest, that the fear of crime is anywhere near as traumatic as the loss of a beloved family member to a heinous criminal act. Such a loss is permanent and the pain it brings simply cannot compare to the fear one conjures up of a such an awful happening.

Furthermore, does a factual report by the media on a stabbing in St Lawrence Gap amount to a declaration that crime is up? Since when?

And had it even gone unreported, would it mean, crime was down? Surely not!

As one of our readers, Francis McClean, put it this week: “It’s the media’s job to report the news. Good, bad, ugly and de indifferent. It’s simple.
We know how it used to be and how it is now and that’s the comparison. The facts speak for themselves.

“It is preferable that there is no crime at all. Saying that crime is down ‘ah don’t get’. Who feels it knows it! Tell that to the families who are affected.”

Derek Gale also asked aloud: “[Are the authorities] insane or what? The media in Barbados is there to report crime in Barbados, not to ignore it . . . . Crime is a problem in Barbados, as reported by the media, and should be discussed, solved and prevented.”

We could not have said it better!

Blame for our crime situation rests squarely on the shoulders of the perpetrators, not those of us whose mandate it is to keep the public informed of what is happening around them.

We understand the need sometimes for the authorities to use the media as a convenient scapegoat. But, pray tell, how could we be held responsible for worrying crime?

Have we not reported over and over the recent boast of the authorities –– including the Attorney General and the Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith –– that this island has recorded a 24 per cent dip in overall crime for the first four months of this year?

Surely, you cannot have it both ways!

If crime is down, we will say so. In the same way, if it is up, you can count on us to report that too. But it does none of us any good to seek to pretend away any trouble we are having in controlling our crime, especially when there are economic and social implications for all of us.

It was very interesting last weekend to see the extent to which local authorities went to try to conceal information on the death of a British national in St Lawrence Gap, only for us to discover that the story was plastered all across the Daily Mail in England –– pictures and all, and coloured by the suggestion that the killing was at the hands of a “suspected drug dealer”.

Therefore, had we in the domestic media not reported on the incident, it still would have made international headlines and damage control would still be in order for our tourism practitioners.

Moreover, residents in The Ivy, St Michael, would still be living in fear today had we not highlighted the recent shoot-outs in their area. If anything, our coverage has helped to spur the police and other officials into action.

We therefore wish to suggest to the Attorney General, and the top brass of the Royal Barbados Police Force: don’t shoot the messenger, just face the facts, and let’s try to get to the bottom of our crime.

As painful an admission as it all may be, we do have a worrying situation on our hands –– not a run-away situation –– but a worrying one.

Respond today, we must, lest we all suffer for our inaction and ineptitude tomorrow.

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