‘Slow justice system partly to blame for rising crime’

Supreme Court judge Carlisle Greaves is suggesting that the court system is to be partially blamed for the increased levels of crime gripping the country.

Addressing a Rotary Club of Barbados South dinner meeting at the Accra Beach Hotel on Wednesday evening, Greaves said the judicial system was simply not moving fast enough in prosecuting cases, adding that “a man that is locked up is very unlikely to commit further crime”.

“Today is a funny night . . . I said that because today, with all the crime that is going on and the gun [related] killings and so on, everybody is probably asking the same question, why is this happening and what are we going to do about it?” Greaves said as he opened his presentation on the topic Aspects of Judicial Management – the Barbados to Bermuda Experience, Speeding up the Process.

“I think this is well known throughout Barbados that we have an inefficient judiciary. This is debated almost daily. The highest courts for our land [Caribbean Court of Justice] have criticized us repeatedly. I am not saying this as a criticism of our judiciary but as a realization that, for whatever reason it is inefficient . . . . A second area that we must acknowledge and everybody probably knows is that we have a problem with crime in particular. We have a problem with civil matters as well,” he said.

“That is so today and it was so in the 1990s when I presided as a magistrate. I was a prosecutor before that, and during my years as a prosecutor I came to the view that the reason we had an escalation of crime, according to police reports from the period 1989 on, was because there was sloth in the system. So the old adage that delay contributes to the increase of crime in society is a truth,” he theorized.

With Barbados recording 25 murders so far for the year, surpassing the 22 murders for all of last year, Greaves said “it looks like we are going to set a record this year”, adding that there was a similar “scourge” in the 1990s.

“But we were able to break the back of that. We also saw, like today, the emergence of gangs in the early 1990s, at first it was denied by those in authority but eventually we had to accept it as we came to know the gangs by name . . . but we were able to break the back of that,” said Greaves.

“Today as I said, the gunmen seem to be running havoc in our country. It is not only so in Barbados, but it is so in perhaps every Caribbean country. There are some that are worse,” he said, pointing to over 30 murders in St Lucia so far, more than 90 in the Bahamas and over 1,000 in Jamaica.

The retired prosecutor made reference to the granting of bail to people accused of murder, charging that there have been examples in recent times of “people who are on bail for murder get charge again for murder again.

“So you went from having one murder case to try to now two or more.”

Greaves, who has been practising in Bermuda for the past 19 years, recalled that when he became a prosecutor here in 1993 the backlog averaged under 50 cases per day, with some dating back seven years.

He said a number of measures were taken then to clear the backlogs, including prioritizing some cases and dismissing those that were considered trivial.

“We know that that backlog was completely eradicated, to the extent that we were guaranteeing trials within two weeks of the day they first came into court by the time I left in 1998,” Greaves said, adding that it was also necessary to make the changes that would fit the situation instead of trying to produce a blanket solutions.

Greaves said a part of the answer to the backlog was for magistrates to “take control of their own courts” and not be intimidated by police officers or lawyers.

He said the court should also set out its policies and make them known so as to create a level of certainty, limit the number of adjournments for cases before they are thrown out and make hearings thorough, but as short as possible to prevent lawyers from “pompersetting in court”.

He also explained that cases that were brought by the same police officer would be heard on the same day so as to save time.

6 Responses to ‘Slow justice system partly to blame for rising crime’

  1. jrsmith September 1, 2017 at 5:10 am

    Thats why we are getting nowhere with the gun violence in barbados, because the so call experts thinks, because its happening elsewhere in the region it balances itself out when happening in barbados,…………………All of our problems is to be blame on the out of control non productive bajan politicians..They have ruined our country with the do nothing say nothing attitude , thats why we are having so much crime ……………….Tick a box with anything good , this government has done for real in 9 years……..

    • hcalndre September 1, 2017 at 6:12 pm

      jrsmith, you are so right. Every time Barbados has a problem, who ever is identifying the problems they are quick to bring some one or some place else to say that Barbados is not as bad, I think the reason for that is that they don`t want to be labeled as anti Barbados. jrs, do you remember that they used Greece as the yard stick for Barbados` problems with the state of their economy, but I have not heard Greece mention lately and Barbados still trying to tax their way out. The court system is more interested in a dress code than getting on with the cases. I believe than more that 50% of the cases should not see the light of the day, eg, some one calling a police officer a clown or an idiot is being arrested, if that is my opinion well so be it and the frivolous libel suits.

  2. BIGSKY September 1, 2017 at 6:12 am

    You also have cases where people are going to court and the other party is not turning up.Sometimes this happens for over 2-4 years before the case is dismissed which is ridiculous.I think the limit should be 10 times,that is if the case is called 10 times and that person does not come to court it should be automatically dismissed.

    • hcalndre September 1, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      @BIGSKY: !0 times! that is even worse, how many years that would take? I`d say 3 times.

  3. ks September 1, 2017 at 7:11 am

    Should have left out the word “partly”!!!

  4. Tony Waterman September 1, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    @BIGSKY!!!! Before it is dismissed, how about the arrest and Jailing of that person, for CONTEMP of Court ??and 10 times is too long, 3 times (Strike 3)

    @jrsmith!!!! Can’t agree with you that this is the case here, The Sytem has been skow for the last 50 Years, and this is because the DPP’s entire office is Incompetant, outdated, and Archais, they lose files, have unfinished Files, the Police reports are never ready, we NEED an overhaul of this Department.

    The Constitution States :-
    3. Any person who is arrested or detained –

    a. for the purpose of bringing him before a court in execution of the order of a court; or

    b. upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed or being about to commit a criminal offense.

    and who is not released, shall be brought before a court as soon as is reasonably practicable; and if any person arrested or detained upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed or being about to commit a criminal offense is not tried within a reasonable time, then, without prejudice to any further proceedings which may be brought against him, he shall be released either unconditionally or upon reasonable conditions, including in particular such conditions as are reasonably necessary to ensure that he appears at a later date for trial or for proceedings preliminary to trial.

    If these Constitutional Rules were followed, we would NOT be in this Pickle Today.


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