By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis yesterday convened an “urgent” conclave with key stakeholders to address the sharp increase of murders in the country.
For the first three months of this year there have been 35 murders, according to The Tribune’s records, with four of those murders occurring last week.
Mr Davis said while much of the killings were clearly gang related, it was obvious that a range of other factors were contributing to the spike.
“There are no easy quick fixes to the crime dilemma neither is there any one solution,” Mr Davis said in a statement released yesterday. “However, we were able to identify immediate measures that will help to reduce levels of crime.”
He said he would have more to say on the issue in the coming days.
Mr Davis said all sectors of society have a role to play in this partnership and going forward the government will invite the public to be involved.
Free National Movement Leader Michael Pintard also attended yesterday’s meeting – and the FNM released a statement with their recommendations on dealing with crime.
While he declined to reveal the specifics of the discussions, he said the opposition presented the government with his party’s recommendations to tackle the scourge of violence.
Some of the recommendations include the increased use of police mobile vans and the establishment of a crime commission that looks at how certain arms of government can improve collectively to fight crime.
Mr Pintard told The Tribune: “We presented the government with a list of recommendations of immediate, medium-term and long-term steps that we believe would be helpful in addressing the crime situation. Our focus was on violent crime in general and steps that ought to be taken to address violent crime. That’s whether it resulted in death or maiming, whether it was the result of conflict between gangs or individuals or domestic violence. We wanted to make some recommendations because no doubt we were there because the surge in crime is what forced the kind of discussion we would have had last week.
“Obviously, the public has been discussing it, but we raised it in particular last week and indicated we are prepared to sit with the government and other stakeholders with a view of arriving at some common solutions in terms of addressing violent crime.”
Another recommendation from the FNM is increasing police presence in hotspot areas.
Mr Pintard said this can be used “to either deter crime or just enable a quick response in the event that crime is committed.”
He said an increase in the police use of mobile vans would assist in this effort.
“I mean that is something that I have seen over the years that has been quite effective when the van is provided to particular areas.”
He added: “It is really a disincentive for persons to carry on with their usual activity and then the other thing is we believe that we should move very quickly to eliminate whatever the habitats are where criminality flourishes and this includes removal of dilapidated houses, some of the overgrown lots and derelict vehicles and gathering spots for known criminal enterprises.
“We live in a country where we for years would know particular areas are known for certain criminal activities and yet we don’t fundamentally reorder or transform that particular area. We also believe that there has to be a deployment of intelligence officers in communities where there are historical problems and the law enforcement then needs adequate information in order for them to formulate their strategy.”
Mr Pintard said there was also a need for a clear message to be sent to weapons smugglers.
“So, whether that means increased inspection of pleasure crafts. Making sure that they go through the correct protocols when they enter the jurisdiction or other vessels that are coming into The Bahamas transporting various types of goods, we have a surveillance system that allows us to detect whether or not somebody might be engaged in the trafficking of contraband of any type and in particular weapons.
“That was one of things we raised - increased border patrol and then, of course, we need to engage our regional partners for the involvement of undercover national security operatives to really help in terms of dismantling some of these organised gangs.”
He said while police had been making some progress in this regard, there was a need to tighten efforts in terms of the uptick in violent crimes.
The party also recommended the increased use of drones; enhanced monitoring of people on bail; and that authorities immediately convene meetings with feuding gangs and communities to interrupt the cycle of violence, among other suggestions.
Agencies and stakeholders represented at yesterday’s conclave included the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Department of Public Prosecutions, the Bahamas Crisis Centre, the Hope Centre, the official opposition, Bahamas Christian Council, members of the government and Cabinet.