By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE country’s crime situation under this Christie administration is worse when compared to the Free National Movement’s last term in office, according to Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn yesterday.
He questioned whether Prime Minister Perry Christie should remove Dr Bernard Nottage as the minister of national security suggesting that he has been ineffective in the post.
However, Dr Nottage refuted Mr Lightbourn’s argument, saying the murder rate today is not worse, but less than it was in 2011, the year before the FNM was defeated by the PLP in the 2012 general election.
Dr Nottage added that serious crimes are down with the exception of murder.
Up to press time, the country’s murder count stood at 68.
“Just for the record, the murder rate today is no worse,” Dr Nottage said as he stood on a point of order. “In fact (it is) less than it was in 2011 in their last year in office. Serious crime and not so serious crime are all down except for the level of murder.”
Both MPs had a difference of opinion in the House of Assembly yesterday as the Montagu MP made a contribution to the 2015/2016 budget debate.
“He wants to make a case for the fact that there are more murders this year at this time over last. He would be correct. I share his concern. I spend every waking hour dealing with the matter,” Dr Nottage said.
He added that if Mr Lightbourn wants him fired, the solution would be to have the PLP voted out of office.
Mr Lightbourn, during his presentation, criticised the PLP for not having the solution to tackle crime, despite promises to have the answers as the party campaigned in 2012.
He said: “As the crime statistics in this country continue to rise since the general election in 2012 the government quickly decided that crime was no longer the fault of the government. Now they (are) singing the tune that we all fail to do our part in the problem while it is evident that they do not have the solution to crime as they boasted before the election.
“They continue to throw out Urban Renewal 2.0 and more police cars as the answer. Clearly it is a far more complex issue but they are devoid of any other ideas to address the situation. I must ask the question, would it not make sense to find another post for the minister responsible?
“Crime is worse now,” Mr Lightbourn added. “The murder rate now is worse than it ever was under the previous administration and yet I don’t hear any cries for the minister responsible for national security to resign or be moved to another portfolio.”
While in opposition, the PLP continuously called for the resignation of then Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest due to high rates of murder and other crimes.
On Tuesday, Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade told reporters that while crime continues to trend down in all categories except murder, more has to be done to fight crime instead of believing that we can “arrest our way out of this”.