40 homicides reported in 2016, Whats Next For Our Nation

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Dear Editor 

While many may want to see St Vincent as a getaway destination, it is important to remember that like many other islands SVG is not merely a tourist attraction, but a living, breathing country with the same crime and violence that every other country in the world experience.

As in most other places, murders in the Caribbean are often linked to the drug trade and mostly confined to known trouble spots.

According to the latest statistics, Honduras, with 92 deaths per 100,000 populations, and Jamaica, with 40.9 homicides per year per 100,000 people, is among the nations with the highest murder rates in the world (although Jamaica’s homicide rate has declined somewhat in recent years).

In St Vincent, one murder is one too many, and we have reported  40 homicides as of  31st December 2016.

And while authorities state that many are gang and drug related, we as a people should encourage those elected to office to find ways to tackle such, thus saving our young children from a fatherless upbringing.

The nation of Saint Vincent do not produce guns, yet, most of these homicides are gun related. Official data for 2001 shows that the nation reported 12 murders or 11.1 per 100,000, where have we gone wrong.

How do these weapons get past our borders and into our communities? And, who are the ones facilitating such movements?

These are not just idle questions; they are necessary ones if we are to stem the tide of rising homicides within our nation.

So how do we stack up against other Caribbean countries, take a look at the statistics below?

  • U.S. Virgin Islands: 40.5 murders per 100,000
  • St. Kitts and Nevis: 38 per 100,000
  • Belize: 30.8 per 100,000
  • Trinidad and Tobago: 33.7  per 100,000
  • Bahamas: 32.2 per 100,000
  • Puerto Rico (a Commonwealth of the United States): 20 per 100,000
  • Dominican Republic: 20 per 100,000
  • St. Lucia: 25 per 100,000
  • St. Vincent and The Grenadines: 36.6 per 100,000
  • Grenada:7.5 per 100,000
  • Dominica: 22 per 100,000
  • Barbados :8.8 per 100,00
  • Data Provided By UN statistics

The above list is incomplete: crime reports from some Caribbean nations fall under those of their parent nations, such as France or the Netherlands, and some nations may underreport or fail to report crime data.

According to the latest available data, the murder rate in the United States was 4.7 per 100,000 population.

Caribbean destinations with murder rates about the same as that in the U.S. (under 10 per 100,000) include Martinique, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Haiti, and Turks & Caicos.

However, it is important to note that the United States is a much bigger country than any in the Caribbean, and there are many U.S. cities where the murder rate is equal to or higher than even the most violent nation in the Caribbean.

For example, the murder rate in St. Louis, Mo., is 59 per 100,000 residents; while the rate is Baltimore is 54 per 100,000 and the rate in Detroit are 43 per 100,000.

My hope for this new year is that citizens can work together to bring back a semblance of community togetherness, and most of all call on elected officials to put more effort in fighting the scourge of crime, that has put a different twist to our beloved paradise SVG.

The Murder rate is calculated by dividing the number of reported crimes by the total population; the result is multiplied by 100,000.

Frustrated Vincentian

2 Comments

  1. As a former coast guard officer of the Royal St.Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force and a twenty three (23) police veteran. I can say without a doubt how the guns arrive in our country. The proliferation of guns in SVG is directly link to the marijuana trade and coastal trade between St. Vincent, Trinidad and Saint Marten. Over the years the Government have taken a sympathetic approach to marijuana cultivation and trafficking. Instead of trying to offer the marijuana growers an option to cultivate coffee or tea, which is less lucrative but a suitable alternative they have stand by and done nothing. Guns are being traded for drugs as well being purchased within some neighboring Caribbean Islands and transported at home on these, “Go Fast” drug trafficking vessels. If the Government had built a coastguard base in Chateaubeliar they would have made a significant impact on the drug trade and limit the amount of guns being imported into the country. Suffice to say inaction give rise to exploitation.

    The violent crime impass in SVG can be addressed under three broad strategic heading. These are:

    1) The implementation of a proper youth developmental policy that would enable supplementary funding for non governmental organizations that have properly structured mentorship programs

    3) Restructuring of our schools curriculum to include mentorship programs

    2) Police reform to include restructuring of the police force that would decentralize key police functions such traffic enforcement and CID, implement high visibility policing within our communities, increase emphasis on training and development, acquisition of mothern crime fighting equipment and the implementation of a fair and transparent promotion policy. The latter is particular to fill the ranks of the police force with its most competent people instead of political operatives

    3) Judicial Reform to include implementation of anti gang legislation, greater police powers to detain suspects of crime, and replacing priliminary inquiry with sufficiency hearing when making a prima facea case

    4) Penal Reform that would enable the implementation more structured training and accredited programs within the prison

    These are some suggestions as to how our nation can address criminality.

  2. Correction-The implementation of anti gang legislation and increase police powers should fall under legislative reform instead of judicial reform.

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