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Sir John Has No Plan To Fight Crime, Says PM

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Contact: Prime Minister's Press Secretary

Thursday, January 19, 2006 - Prime Minister Dr Kenny D. Anthony says that while the Labour Administration has done a lot to improve the ability of the police to fight crime today, the United Workers Party (UWP) Leader has made it clear that he can't offer the people of St. Lucia any new policies on crime, “except the old failed formulae of the past.”

UWP Leader Sir John Compton, in an interview on HTS on Tuesday night, claimed that more police officers were not needed to fight crime and that the problem with the police was one of “lack of morale.”

Said Dr Anthony: “Sir John claims it's a question of morale among police officers because, he says, 40% of those trained resign every two years. But, once again, Sir John has his facts wrong.

“What he heard from the Commissioner of Police is that between ten and thirty officers may resign in any one year, for a variety of reasons – including better opportunities abroad -- but certainly not 40% of those who were trained, as claimed by Sir John.”

The Prime Minister said it was “no secret” that there were police officers “who left the force to take up employment overseas.” But, unlike Sir John, he did not see that in a negative light.

He explained: “Yes, a percentage police officers do resign from time to time to take up employment with other police forces overseas. Some countries, such as Bermuda, pay exceedingly high salaries to attract police officers from across the region, and not only St. Lucia.

“But this is testimony to the high level of training our officers have been exposed to in the past eight years, which has given them a competitive edge in the regional marketplace.

Dr Anthony also took Sir John to task on his claim about low morale in the force, saying: “If Sir John says morale is still low in the police force today, it is perhaps his own admission that it began and festered under his administration, as shown by the amount of work this Labour administration has had to do since taking office eight years ago, to improve the conditions and the environment in which our police operate.”

He noted that Sir John has said a UWP administration would not build any more new police stations, and said this was “more proof that a UWP administration will return to its traditional neglect of the environment in which police have to do their work.”

Sir John had also claimed that the police were unable to perform their duties for lack of fuel for police vehicles. Prime Minister Anthony said: “Here again, Sir John is being economical with the truth.”

He pointed out: “The truth is that in 1998, less than a year after taking office, the Labour Administration had to replace the entire fleet of depleted and derelict police vehicles and motorcycles inherited from the UWP administration.”

“Further,” he added, “it is utter nonsense to suggest that the police can't do their work to fight crime because their vehicles have no gas, when members of the public often report seeing police vehicles all over the country at unusual hours.”

Dr Anthony said: “It is clear from Sir John's own statements that he is stuck with the failed policies of past UWP administrations, which resulted in a complete breakdown of basic infrastructure, introduction of factionalism, and led to the low morale he now speaks of.”

Said the Prime Minister: “If they had built a proper foundation and cared for the conditions under which the police work, we would not today have had to be building new police and fire stations around the country and refurbishing those that could still be saved.”

The PM called on the UWP Leader to “cease politicking with crime and stop repeating uninformed comments about the affairs of our Police Force.”

He said: “Sir John knows, as the people of St. Lucia know, that the Labour Administration has done more for the police in eight years than the UWP did for all its years in office.”

The Prime Minister said the Government's policy of “increasing the number of police officers on the beat and the various ongoing, simultaneous legislative, administrative, training and operational programmes aimed at reducing crime are definitely beginning to show positive results.”

“Such positive results,” he added, “can be seen in the success of the programme for the recovery of illegal weapons, which took 204 illegal weapons off the streets in 2005.”

He reiterated his disclosure in his New Year's Address to the Nation on January 16, saying: “Fighting and reducing crime will continue to be a priority for the Government of St. Lucia in 2006.”

Dr Anthony further remarked: “From Sir John's own statements to the media on how he would go about fighting crime, it is clear that the UWP Leader has no serious initiatives to offer to the public to fight crime.”

He concluded: “His own statements help to explain why Sir John and his crew are afraid to debate the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) on crime.”

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