Saturday 23 September, 2017

AG: Crime plan ready

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite at the Third Quarterly General Meeting of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA).

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite at the Third Quarterly General Meeting of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA).

Many have been asking questions as to when and how Government intends to deal with the increase in gun-related crimes occurring across the island and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite appears to have some solutions.

Speaking at the Quarterly Meeting of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) this morning at the Hilton Barbados Resort, Brathwaite proposed measures to address the gun crime that has seen the death of six young men in various shooting incidents for the month of August.

The proposed measures include the drafting of anti-gang legislation which will see severe penalties for persons identified as gang members and involved in criminal conduct.

Brathwaite acknowledged Barbados has a “big gang problem” for which Government had been trying to address with a ‘softer’ approach but it was recognised that more serious measures needed to be taken.

Brathwaite said it was impractical to believe that this legislation alone will eliminate the crime problem, especially considering the 68 percent rate of recidivism.

“Anti-gang legislation alone will not solve the problem of our young people being involved in crime. Yes, there is a role for incarcerating young people but if you incarcerate a 20-year-old, send him to prison for 25 years and he comes back out at 45, you still have a problem if he doesn’t change. So you have to do more.”

He said for some individuals who originate from families involved in criminal activities for “generations”, there was the need to educate the younger ones and give them positive alternatives.

The proposed crime plan would also see the broadening of police power under the 'stop and search' laws to allow police to conduct searches at the homes of individuals without reason of suspicion. He admitted this was a “dicey area of the law” which needed to be executed properly so as not to violate anyone’s constitutional rights.

In addition, the Bail Act is to be amended which would see persons charged with murder or firearm-related offences being granted bail for a period of not less than 18 months.

Brathwaite said the court would also be seeking to fast-track these cases in the event that a ruling can be expedited before the bail period ends.

In relation to firearm legislation, Brathwaite disclosed a new bill is being finalised with stricter regulations and penalties for gun clubs, licensed firearm holders, sellers of firearm and ammunition so as to ensure that there is no transfer of guns or bullets into the hands of criminals.

“Our concern here is that these individuals seem to have access not only to legal firearms but to the ammunition so we want to ensure that our legal providers are not conduits to this bad behaviour,” said the AG.

Brathwaite went on to explain the Civil Asset Forfeiture Bill, which had been in the works from 2013, will be laid in Parliament in the next month. This legislation will be used to seize the assets of and investigate persons who are believed to be benefiting from criminal involvement.

He added the issue of guns entering the island will be addressed by enhancing training of border security personnel and equipping them with more scanners. Ports of entry will be implementing the Regional Advanced Cargo Information System (ACIS) to allow Customs officers to track cargo coming into the island and identify those that require "special attention".