Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage.
CHAIRMAN of the Free National Movement Michael Pintard and Democratic National Alliance Leader Branville McCartney both dismissed a recent crime address from Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage for missing the mark.
In a statement, Mr Pintard said Dr Nottage’s speech confirmed what many Bahamians and the FNM already knew, “that the minister is ill suited for this job at this critical juncture and that the Christie led administration lacks concrete plans that will impact crime reduction in the short to medium term.”
Mr Pintard pointed out that Dr Nottage did not address the issue of crime during the 2015/2016 budget debate as expected.
He said since then, Bahamians expected to get from Dr Nottage “a sense of the urgency with which the government intends to contain and then dramatically reverse the crime trends that are wreaking havoc in this once peaceful nation.” Instead, Mr Pintard said, Dr Nottage gave an analysis of crime trends, missing the point that the public expects a strategic plan for crime reduction.
He said the FNM has a 26-point plan to tackle crime.
This includes, among other ideas, working with community leaders to identify potential deadly feuds before they begin; increase police presence in hot spots; increase the use of police mobile vans; use gunshot detection devices; and use technology such as drones to aid the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
In a statement released yesterday, Mr McCartney said after months of escalating violence and international warnings on crime, Dr Nottage finally broke his silence on crime. However he said the minister’s speech was filled with “hollow promises and political rhetoric”.
“In the run-up to the 2012 election this Christie government stated emphatically that they had the answers to making our country safe again. Since coming to office, however, this government has put forward no ground breaking policy initiatives to address the issue, instead relying on much of the same and hoping for a new result,” the former Bamboo Town MP said.
“According to Dr Nottage, the government is spending millions on new equipment and technologies which on the surface seems like an appropriate measure to take. “Unfortunately, this government has for months ignored and neglected the needs of their most valuable resource: police officers.
“Also of note in the minister’s address were plans to introduce new legislation to hold parents accountable for the criminal actions of their minor children. This proposed law does nothing to address the many root issues contributing to crime in the Bahamas and will serve only to make criminals of struggling, hard working parents. Even so, the government’s track record on the introduction, implementation and enforcement of matters on its legislative agenda has left much to be desired. The DNA has little confidence that this administration will be able to execute and enforce these new laws.”
The DNA leader said the first step to crime reduction is showing criminals their actions will not be tolerated. He said all impediments to capital punishment must be removed.
He said a government led by the DNA would create a victims’ ombudsman separate and apart from the police and prosecution departments where they can receive independent advice and representation if necessary.
He said a DNA administration would also focus on not just the punitive aspect of incarceration but also the rehabilitative aspect as well.
He added: “We call on the ministers of national security to do more than just spew rhetoric but to take real and decisive action. Our political leaders must do just that: lead and not simply in word but most importantly by example.”
INSIGHT: Too little, too late - see back page of Business.