ADDRESS BY THE MINISTER FOR
HOME AFFAIRS AND INTERNAL SECURITY
HONOURABLE CALIXTE GEORGE
OPENING CEREMONY OF THE VIEUX-FORT
POLICE STATION AND DIVISIONAL HEADQUARTERS
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24TH 2004
CRIME ABATEMENT STRATEGIES
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very pleased to be part of this special Ceremony today. The subject that engages the minds of most St. Lucians these days is Crime and the main question being asked is ‘What is the Government doing about crime’ or you hear from certain quarters that ‘The Government is doing nothing about crime’ . Well I can tell you that the Government is making a concerted and tremendous effort to control crime. But crime cannot be fought by the government alone. As I have indicated on several occasions since taking over responsibility for the police that crime is a societal problem and that because of the complex nature of crime, of the causes of crime, the solution to the problem must be tackled from a holistic point of view with multifaceted and multidimensional strategies.
The situation now is that the general public is disenchanted and disappointed with the service provided by the Police. There are many police officers who continue to perform in an exemplary manner and these persons are recognized and must be commended. There are too many, however, who continue to be a great source of embarrassment to the Force. I can assure you that deviant Police Officers will be dealt with swiftly. It will be zero tolerance for abhorrent behavior. I believe that every employee must be given the chance to prove that they can perform better. Failing this, they must be relieved of those responsibilities which they clearly demonstrate they are not capable of performing and moreover, when they display the wrong attitude on the job.
I can say categorically that this government has done more for the Police Force than any previous government over the same period of time in office, and I am sure you will hear from the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister for Finance about the financial and other resources already invested in the Royal St Lucia Police Force since the Labour Party assumed office in May 1997.
Yet, because of the nature and complexity of the Crime Problem we will be the first to admit that a lot more has to be done. Our Police Officers of all ranks from Constable to Top Management must themselves embark on a serious attempt to ensure that the resources placed in their care are managed prudently and responsibly, so that the service delivered to the public can be beyond reproach. There is a tendency to ask for greater numbers of personnel to solve the Crime Problems. Increasing numbers do not necessarily solve the problem. While it may contribute to tackling the problem, I am of the view that emphasis should be placed on the greater productivity of existing personnel e.g. tactical deployment of officers as well as better utilization and management of resources at hand e.g. proper management of the vehicle fleet.
Since my assumption to office as the Minister with responsibility for Home Affairs and Internal Security on January 12th 2004, I have been giving much thought to the root and other causes for the dissatisfaction being expressed by the general public with the Police Force, as well as the causes of internal dissatisfaction expressed by Police Officers themselves.
Unfolding events as they relate to the issue of crime and security and the impact of these on the country’s social and economic infrastructure preoccupy my time in office. Crime affecting households, businesses, the tourism sector and the agricultural sector with the age old problem of praedial Larceny are of great concern to me. Within that context, two weeks into my new area of responsibility, I immediately embarked (beginning on February 10th 2004) on an on-the-spot situational analysis which involved meetings and on-site examinations. Firstly, I dealt with the Police Department, which included every Unit at Police Headquarters, CID, Marine, SSU, Operations, Crime and Discipline, Training and Community Policing, Criminal Records Office and so forth, and nearly every Police Station islandwide.
The meetings held with all Units at Police Headquarters, Police Stations around the island and major players operating in the economy, provided my Ministry with a critical analysis of all central issues, concerns, raised by top and middle management, as well as the rank and file officers within the Police Force.
In addition I have also concluded a series of meetings and consultations with key stakeholders operating in the economy, to know first hand, and quickly, what their specific concerns entail. We had consultations with :
(1) St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture and Industry
(2) Commercial Banks
(3) St. Lucia Tourist Board
(4) Ministry of Tourism and St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Industry
(5) The Small Manufacturers Association
(6) The St. Lucia Small Business Association and The Employers Federation
(7) The St. Lucia Co-operative League
(8) Private Security Companies
Recommendations and suggestions emanating from these consultations have helped the Ministry together with the Police Department to develop some specific strategies and approaches towards tackling the Crime Problem. Together, we are sending a clear message to the deviants in our society that business will not be as usual.
As a result of all these interactions, discussions, consultations with the various stakeholders the following Strategies for tackling the crime problem have been developed and are being implemented:
The major strategies have been classified under various areas :
8. Private Sector
9. Public Support
I will not at this stage go into the details of each of these areas, but will illustrate a few of the measures and initiatives that have been identified.
· Recruitment Process-
(1) Criteria setting
(2) Community participation
· Training (1) Local/Regional/International
(3) Particular attention should be paid to identifying officers with aptitude and capability to absorb advanced training in specialized areas
· Expand knowledge base both in breadth and depth
· Rationalization of numbers of police officers in administrative, clerical and managerial positions/functions with aim of having higher ratio for actual field policing duties and functions.
· Patrols – (1) Normal/Targeted/Tactical
(2) Increase field patrol activities
(3) Establish new Mobile patrol units in areas of rapid urban expansion e.g. Gros Islet, Vieux-Fort
· Redeployment in relation to (1) Supply/Demand (2) Geographical factors
· CID – Investigative techniques/methods/Processes
Crime Scene Management
· Intelligence - Expand surveillance activities in known hot spot areas and on known and suspected criminals
New Police Stations
Refurbished Police Stations
Vehicle fleet upgrade and expansion
Modern equipment – (1) Laser-guns (non lethal Weaponry)
(4) Frame-Relay for effective Communications
· Intensify inter-sectoral Co-ordination e.g. Police working with Community Development Officer
· National Crime Commission
· Community Policing –
(1) Full engagement of communities islandwide in developing strategies to reduce opportunities for crimes at the local level.
(2) Establish close partnerships with volunteer Crime Fighting Groups
5. SUPPORT SERVICES
· Forensic Laboratory Services
· Prosecution Services
· Correctional Facility – 1. Sacred Straight Programme
2. Rehabilitation of offenders
· Criminal Code
· Police Complaints Commission
· Security Incentives – 1) Institutional
2) House hold level
3) Community Level Neighbourhood watchers
8. PRIVATE SECTOR
· Business Initiatives – 1) Target hardening
2) Electronic Surveillance Co-operation
· Security Firms – Licencing
9. PUBLIC SUPPORT
· Co-operation and Collaboration
10. REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL
· Regional Security System
· Drug Interdiction
VIEUX-FORT POLICE STATION/SOUTHERN DIVISIONAL HEADQUARTERS
As I indicated earlier, much has been given to the Police Force and of course much will be expected from Police Officers. This new modern state of the Art facility viz. the Vieux-Fort Police Station is yet another major step that Government is taking in the fight against Crime. The Station will also serve as the Divisional Headquarters for the South of the Island. Thus specialized services for Soufriere, Choiseul, Laborie and Micoud will be provided in addition to Vieux-Fort. This will certainly ease the burden on Central Headquarters in Castries. However, this will call for proper management and special co-ordination with Castries.
The details of the physical structure are as follows - On the ground floor measuring a total of 19, 860 square feet officers include the following: -
On the First Floor which measures approximately 6,778 square feet, well equipped spacious Dormitories and modern facilities have been provided for Police Officers.
The Force can now boast of a vastly improved conducive environment for the conduct of policing duties. We sincerely hope the officers will make optimal use of the facilities.
Now a special word to Police Officers. The Crime situation is too serious for you to be wasting valuable time in developing factions. It would appear that factionalization has been an endemic disease in the Force. I implore you to desist from this practice. Now is the time to rally around your supervisors and your Chief and adhere to your oath of office so that you can deliver a high quality service to the populace. If you deliver I am certain that public confidence in the Force will increase.
Ladies and Gentlemen we require your support and we must collaborate closely if we are to tackle the level of crime affecting our Country. The Police has been directed to foster that collaboration and we look forward to your support.
Finally I wish to thank the various Institutions and individuals who have contributed to this magnificent facility:
(1) NIPRO under the ‘eye’ of Ms Emma Hippolyte and Mr. Shawn Matthew. Dr. Frederick Isaac needs high praise for the manner he interacted with my Ministry in trying to put the finishing touches.
(2) Ministry of Planning particularly Ms Jennifer Auguste for the meticulous and professional approach to her work. She is I believe an exemplary civil servant.
(3) Mrs Marcia Philbert-Jules, former Permanent Secretary, Mrs Ingrid Bullard, Deputy Permanent Secretary and the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ausbert Regis for their cooperation and quick manner in adjusting to my idiosyncracies and modus operandi in getting a job done to my satisfaction.
I thank you.
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