The National Crime Commission
The Government of Saint Lucia has approved the establishment of a National Crime Commission (NCC) as part of its long term strategy to fight rising crime in Saint Lucia.
On Wednesday, the 19th of September 2001, members of the NCC participated in the first in a series of workshops, aimed at informing members of the aims and objectives of an NCC, and at the possible structures and forms it might take.
A follow-up workshop is planned for the latter half of October and it is proposed that the official launching of the NCC take place sometime soon thereafter.
The following is a summary of the proposal to establish an NCC, which Cabinet reviewed and subsequently approved.
PROPOSALS FOR A NATIONAL CRIME COMMISSION (NCC)
The establishment of a National Crime Commission constitutes a part of Government’s continuing efforts to shape a long term strategy for combating crime. Underlying this strategy is a firm commitment to crime prevention. It is therefore envisaged that a central mission of the Commission will be crime prevention.
The general objectives of crime prevention programmes are:
(1) to decrease actual levels of crime and disorder
(2) to prohibit further increases in crime, or at least in certain crimes
(3) to manage and decrease the fear of crime and personal victimisation
(4) to form civic partnerships in reducing crime levels, disorder and fear.
In pursuance of these objectives many states have adopted an approach which is executed at three levels: (See also Appendix A)
(a) Primary Prevention
(e.g., public education neighbourhood controls, social programmes, etc.)
(b) Secondary Prevention
(E.g., community policing, diagnosis and prediction of crime rates, pro-active policies in schools, etc.)
(c) Tertiary Prevention
(e.g., specific deterrence via courts, rehabilitation, etc.)
The Government of Saint Lucia has obtained the assistance of Professor Ramesh Deosaran, Director, Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice, U.W.I., St. Augustin, who submitted a Consultant’s Report based on a series of consultations he held with various groups in Saint Lucia. The Cabinet of Ministers has reviewed and accepted the Report and these proposals represent an adaptation of parts of the said Report.
Five major functions are proposed for the NCC:
(a) public consultation and mobilisation
(b) research, analysis and publications
(c) inter-agency co-ordination
(d) training and development
(e) advisory and policy recommendations
OBJECTIVES OF NCC
Fifteen objectives have been identified for the NCC and these will have to be prioritised by Government and the NCC.
(1) To collect, through wide spread public hearings and consultations (i.e., communities, civic organisations, police, prisons and other government agencies, professional and business groups, etc.) in an organised, impartial and responsible manner, their concerns and suggestions for preventing and controlling crime in specific ways and make recommendations to Government for action.
(2) To examine specific strategies to enhance the role of the church, school, family and civic organisations in forging “a national culture against crime and violence,” and make recommendations.
(3) To help develop and implement a nation-wide community policing programme in collaboration with the police service and various communities, and providing appropriate training, methodologies, skills and evaluations in this regard. (Maybe in collaboration with the Police Reform Committee).
(4) To conduct an “attitude survey within all ranks of the police force so as to find out the areas of strengths and weaknesses of targeting human resource training and development, and in particular to see the extent to which the concept and practice of community policing is actually accepted within the force at present. (This will be done in close collaboration with the RSLPF and its change team)
(5) To construct quality benchmarks and performance standards as feedback mechanisms for enhancing quality performance by the police and the community within the framework of the community policing programme. Based on data from official crime statistics and other related sources, this structure will play a key role in bringing each community - on a district by district basis - into the crime prevention and crime control paradigm in measurable and accountable ways. This strategy will bring a scientific approach not only to crime prevention but also to the operations of the community policing programme.
(6) To review the system of compiling crime reports from citizens, to review and improve the validity, reliability and official reporting of crime statistics.
(7) To conduct periodic surveys in the various communities (e.g., victimisation surveys and in the schools (e.g., risk levels and delinquency) to help provide a fuller picture of crime and deviance and a viable basis for proactive policies by Government, relevant institutions and the community as a whole.
(8) To publish or cause to be published regular statistical and crime prevention reports for use by government agencies and the general public.
(9) To examine, as far as possible, the social and psychological patterns of criminal behaviour - both adult and youth - and make recommendations for crime prevention and rehabilitation.
(10) To consider and develop community-based mediation programmes (and Centres) as alternatives to incarceration, especially for first time offenders, or those committing certain minor crimes and offences. Community sentencing could be linked to this programme.
(11) To examine:
(a) reasons for any significant shifts in crime trends (increase or decrease),
(b) the various patterns of criminal behaviour in terms of geographical location and social background of offenders and victims, and make recommendations.
(12) To examine the linkages between drug abuse, trafficking and related patterns of crime and make recommendations.
(13) To consider judicial sentencing trends and scope for rehabilitation so as to curb recidivism and deliquency.
(14) To examine appropriate local, regional and international research/policy reports on crime and related matters, and make recommendations for improving Government policy.
The agreed order of prioritisation, can be set within a five-year time frame for implementation. Thus by the year 2006 or before, the work and results of the Commission should be so visible and of such quality that its existence will be clearly justified.
It is therefore important that the country be told that results from the Commission will not materialise “overnight,” but in a phased and accountable manner and within set time frames. For example, Phase One should be initiated within the first year. Phase Two during second year, etc.
MEMBERSHIP OF THE NCC
The membership of the Commission shall comprise representatives of the following:
(1) Government and Parliament
(2) Academic Community
(3) Religious Organisations
(4) Civic Organisations, including youth
(5) Legal Profession and other Professional Bodies
(7) Hotel and Business Sectors
(8) Protective Services (e.g., police, prisons, etc.)
(9) General Public
ADMINISTRATION OF THE NCC
The administration of the NCC, as approved by Cabinet, is attached as Appendix B, and may be described as follows:
A 12-member Council of Commissioners (with a Chairperson), a seven-member Board of Professional Advisors, a Chief Administrative Officer responsible for the Secretariat and four functional Units. The Board of Professional Advisors will respond to matters referred to it by the Council of Commissioners.
The Chief Administrative Officer will receive general direction and policy from the Council of Commissioners who in turn will be responsible to Parliament through the Attorney General.
The Chief Administrative Officer should have appropriate civil service status and tenure and will be responsible to the Council of the National Crime Commission. This officer will be an ex officio member of the Council of the Commission and be responsible for the day to day operations of the Commission. He/she will also be in direct charge of advisory and policy matters, budget and finance and inter-agency collaboration.
In addition to the Administrative Secretariat, and stipulated duties of the Chief Administrative Officer, four specialised Units to reflect the other major functions and objectives of the Commission, will be established to give substance to the work of the Commission.
The specific objectives of the Commission have been placed in a “best fit” manner for Chief Administrative Officer and the four Operational Units proposed. As Appendix C shows, in addition to his/her duties, the Chief Administrative Officer will also have a number of the Commission’s fixed objectives under his/her responsibility.
This overall structure is designed to enable the Commission itself to consider and carry out 15 objectives listed earlier, subject of course to other directions from the Government. Subject to Parliament and the line Minister, the Commission will to a large degree be an executive body.
EVALUATION OF NCC
In order to help evaluate, scientifically, the work of the Crime commission and that of other related agencies, we propose that a regime of assessment be now made which will then become the benchmarks for subsequent assessments.
Among such pre and post assessments proposed are:
(1) Current level or public fears of crime
(2) Current level of public confidence in the police
(3) Current attitudes within all ranks of the police force (e.g., towards the public, community policing, work, organisational climate, team spirit, etc.)
(4) Levels of crime in each police station district of the country.
In other words, we need to have a scientific basis to know, as the years go by, what worked or what is not working well as far as the Crime Commission and related agencies are concerned. We will not know such things properly unless we take certain assessments now.
LEGAL STATUS OF NCC
The Government of Saint Lucia is actively considering establishing the NCC as a statutory body by Act of Parliament. A final decision on this matter will be made following the initial meetings of a fully constituted NCC.
Crime Prevention Approaches
Arrest and conviction
Levels of crime
Social Crime Prevention-
Identification and Prediction
Early identification and prediction of problem individuals
Situational Crime Prevention
Crime Area Analysis
Targeting of high-crime areas
Neighbourhood dispute resolution
Prevention and treatment
Schools and Crime Prevention
Work with potential problem youth
Rehabilitation and Treatment