Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Statement on crime measures by Government
Monday, 30th December 2013
As foreshadowed in our press statement yesterday, following consultations with the Commissioner of Police, Cabinet met today to settle on a programme of action in the wake of the tragic incident at Fox Hill on Friday past. In this statement we will outline key measures that are either already being taken or will shortly be taken to escalate the war on crime.
· The Royal Bahamas Police Force will escalate saturation patrols using marked and unmarked cars in hot spots.
· The Police Force will be even more robustly equipped with cars and other crime-fighting tools as an integral part of the escalated saturation patrols, especially areas that are known as hot spots in New Providence.
· Re-instatement of the 12-hour policing shift, possibly on new terms, is now the subject of intense study and discussion. A further announcement on this subject can be expected once the necessary consultations within law enforcement have been completed.
· The Government is deeply concerned about the number of persons who are arrested and charged with serious crimes while out on bail. This is a major problem in the war against crime. The Government is fully prepared to legislatively intervene to impose additional restrictions on the ability of judges to grant bail in offences involving crimes of violence and the use of firearms.
· Cabinet has directed the Ministry of Works to work around the clock to complete refurbishment of additional criminal courts so that as many as 10 criminal courts will be able to hear criminal cases simultaneously. This massive expansion of the judicial infrastructure will enable criminal cases to be disposed of much more quickly and efficiently which, in turn, should dramatically reduce the number of persons released on bail while at the same time ensuring that violent offenders are kept securely behind bars to serve their sentences once they have been speedily convicted.
· The courts will be properly resourced in additional ways so as to eliminate delays and postponements. Measures in this regard will be especially directed at curbing unnecessary adjournments and delays.
The measures outlined above will be buttressed by aggressive initiatives under Operation Cease Fire. These initiatives will include:
· Improvement and expansion of the capabilities of the Situation Room to collect and analyze data and to positively influence co-ordination of policing operations.
· Contracting out vehicle repairs and maintenance to private vehicle repair establishments as means of ensuring that the full fleet of police vehicles is available for the war on crime
· Effecting Improvements to the EMT programme
· Appointment of new judges and public defenders
· Improved intelligence-gathering capability
· Expanded CCTV coverage
· Targeting of prolific offenders especially those on bail and especially bail for murders or other violent crimes
· Expanded use of Reserve Officers
· Accelerated training of new recruits
· Expanded use of plainclothes officers and adoption of the “Strike Force” strategy
· Legislative Intervention aimed at prolific or career criminals, with stiffer penalties for firearm use and trafficking, witness intimidation and other serious crimes.
· Formation of Gang Unit
· Consideration of a Gun amnesty/ buy back/ exchange/ bounty
· Special Court for firearm cases
In addition to these efforts, the Ministry of Works through Urban Renewal will execute an aggressive campaign to clean vacant lots and remove derelict vehicles to remove the hiding spaces where criminals hide weapons.
The War on Crime must engage the energies of all of us. We therefore invite all stakeholders to join the national effort to stop delaying justice and to support the war on crime.