By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – If the description of an ‘escalated crime area’ per the ‘Suppression of Escalated Crime (Police Powers) Act 2023’ – is appropriately understood – there is reason to justify that Castries should be designated an ‘escalated crime area.’
With three homicides heading into the third week of January 2024 and taking into consideration historical analysis of crime statistics, the fault lines are beginning to draw, from successive years of 75 homicides and underreporting.
The latter is not by accident but by convenience and face-saving. But for how long? At current levels, the mathematical formulation is conducive to similar and worse results.
March 17, 2023, Minister for Finance, Economic Development and the Youth Economy and Minister for Justice and National Security, Philip J Pierre, March 20, 2023, signed a history distinction, designating Vieux Fort (South) an ‘escalated crime area,’ until May 16, 2023.
As expressed previously, the recent enactment of the ‘Suppression of Escalated Crime (Police Powers) Act 2023’ in Saint Lucia calls to question the many fronts to civil liability, (“In law, liable means responsible or answerable in law; legally obligated.”)
The alternative is a properly functioning police force, a judicial system and overall leadership. But currently – none of that exists, while outlaws and an underground economy thrives throughout Saint Lucia.
What do we have NOW? Last year, Prime Minister Philip Pierre advised on the implementation of the ministry of national security. “Right now, you share the head with the Ministry of Home Affairs and sometimes that creates a little bit of confusion.”
Prime Minister Pierre’s January 7, 2024, New Year’s address, subsection “crime reduction and citizens security, advised:
“In 2023, we witnessed an alarming increase in gun-related homicides particularly among some young males, fueled by an imported gang culture. We are committed to attacking that problem with all available resources and call on the support of the public, and all social and non-governmental organisations.
“We will continue to empower the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force with the technical, physical, and human resources they need to detect and solve criminal activity.
“The timely dispensation of justice will be improved with the commencement of the construction of the new Halls of Justice during this fiscal year providing a suitable working environment for judicial officers.
“The society as a whole must encourage values that will steer our youth from the false hope and gains of a life of crime to productive pursuits that will redound to the benefit of everyone.
“Government pledges its support and availability to constructive dialogue on the improvement of citizen security in our country.”
Caribbean News Global (CNG) security analysis contextualized the prime minister’s annotations:
“Simply put, Castries and Saint Lucia are under siege. The law enforcement toolbox to battle crime and thugs is dysfunctional – while the gun trade flourishes. The concurrence is a country trapped in jeopardy of the politics and the legislator – a sinful union – unfit to make compulsory policy and implement changes towards the status quo. The result is more of the same in the cause of a malfunctioning society.
“The reconstruction of “custody suites” in its current form and location are part and parcel of a law enforcement strategic failure. The composition, recital, play, or singing extemporaneously will not change behaviour on the streets of Castries and criminal minds throughout Saint Lucia. The adaptation to “custody suite” solidifies a decaying dysfunctional law enforcement environment and the benefactors that are driven by policy and the politics of conflict.”
The Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) held a press conference on January 4, 2024, led by Commissioner of Police Crusita Descartes-Pelius, yielding nothing beyond a police force that is useless to its core mandate and needs dismantling.
“The Caribbean, in particular, stands as a sobering example, with four of the five most murderous countries and territories in the region in 2022 being the Turks and Caicos Islands, Jamaica, Venezuela, Saint Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines,” writes, Sir Ronald Sanders.
Understandably, the worsening crime situation in Saint Lucia and the Caribbean with guns and criminality requires no less than urgent action.
To augment law enforcement in Saint Lucia, the two dysfunctional policy arms of government and a new police force must reform into a professionalised institution – competent in law enforcement prevention, policing, investigation, prosecution and a functioning judiciary.
The continual encumbrance of hypocrisy to personalize the police force, the targeted reliance on votes at election time, and the use, as a presumptive creature of the political establishment that denotes – governance – are commendations of the present fault lines of feebleness, leaderless and awkwardness to escalated crime in Saint Lucia.