Crime and Criminality High on Government’s Agenda

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CHURCH SERVICE –Pictured from left are Acting Commissioner of Police Reginald Ferguson, Assistant Commissioner of Police Eugene Cartwright and Assistant Director of Immigration James Rolle at the Annual Police Service on Grand Bahama Sunday. (Photo/Vandyke Hepburn)

By: Simon Lewis

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – The Government of The Bahamas is keeping crime criminality high of its national agenda and is creating the space and the mechanism for Bahamians everywhere to give expression to their anti-crime consciousness.

That assurance came from Senator the Honourable Elma Campbell, Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security and Immigration during the Royal Bahamas Police Force Grand Bahama Division’s Annual Church Service Sunday.

The law enforcement officers, along with officials from Bahamas Customs, Bahamas Immigration Department and the Road Traffic Department held the special service at the Church of God Temple, located on Peach Tree Street. It was conducted by the Grand Bahama Christian Council.

Minister Campbell referred to statistics released recently by the Royal Bahamas Police Force that show that crime, particularly violent crime, including murder, continues to loom large in the country. This, she expressed, is particularly so in the capital city of Nassau.

Assuring the gathering that the Government is keeping crime and criminality high of the agenda, she also remarked that a profound change is taking place in the consciousness of the Bahamian people.

“Bahamians want an end to this spiral of crime and violence, and particularly to senseless killings, which resulted in 79 murders in 2007, and already in 2008, to nine murders,” she said.

Continuing, Ms. Campbell informed that the Government is creating the space and the mechanism for Bahamians to give expression to their anti-crime consciousness, and through dialogue and debate, to express their views on crime and criminality.

“Importantly, we are listening to views on what we as a nation and a people ought to be doing about it.”

Minister Campbell pointed out that only a few days ago, the Ministry of National Security had partnered with the Conference of Youth Leaders to hold the first National Youth Anti-Crime and No-Violence Forum.

“We heard the voices of our young people as they expressed their views on parenting, the family and the breakdown of traditional values. They spoke of the need for all to be free from illiteracy and poverty, domestic violence and other societal ills, and to have a decent life.

“They commented that we should obey the laws, all the laws, including traffic laws, and that adults should live by example. They urged that every effort be taken to ensure that the next generation of Bahamians does not grow up in an environment of crime and violence,” Ms. Campbell said.

She told the gathering that they listened to the solutions expressed by the young people and are assured that those solutions will be taken into account by the National Crime Council.

Adding that the government is pleased to see that crime in Grand Bahama and the Family Islands is not as volatile as in New Providence, Minister Campbell told officers to make careful note of the positive outcomes of the bridges their build in Neighborhood Community Policing Programmes and other measures, and ensure that their experience and expertise in all areas are shared with law enforcement officers country-wide.

She encouraged Police Officers to continue to work with courage, strength and professionalism, and that they maintain their integrity and grasp opportunities for training and retraining.

“These are times of challenge and change for the Royal Bahamas Police Force, led in no small measure by a changing of the guard, so to speak, and other intuitional changes and developments.

“The Government is strengthening the hands of the Police Force as it goes through this transition to ensure that it continues to perform to the highest possible standard now and in the future.

“We are providing the necessary resources, including cutting edge technological equipment, communications and transportation required of a 21st century Police Force and seeking to meet the needs of the Force for appropriate facilities throughout our country,” she informed.