Caribbean Commissioners of Police and their counterparts from the French Antilles, British Virgin Islands and Suriname, yesterday concluded their 24th annual conference with a pledge to protect national interests that are susceptible to criminal activities.
The conference which was held at the Savannah Suite, Pegasus, did not confine itself to deliberation from only the regions top cops, but also featured presentations from a number of stakeholders, including non governmental organisations and security and other social experts.
Such sessions were deliberately designed to enable the Police Chiefs to be outward looking in their attempts to arrest the region’s crime problems.
It was a time for reflection and gave the Commissioners an opportunity to greater understand the society that they are policing.
Among the first topics discussed was the global economic crisis which set the tone for discussions on other matters.
According to Commissioner of Police of the Barbados Police Force, Darwin Dottin, who shared the press conference with his counterparts from Guyana, Bermuda, Anguilla and the Bahamas, this was done deliberately because it was recognised that the economic situation currently engulfing the world has significant impact on revenues and consequently the spending on social issues as well as law enforcement.
“Given the fall out from the economic conditions we have to redouble our efforts to protect the national and economic activities that are sensitive to crime, particularly tourism,” Dottin who is the current president of the association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police told the media yesterday.
Discussions on crime took up most of the discussions among the region’s Commissioners of Police.
Foremost in these discussions were violence and gang activity in the region. These have raised the anxiety of the citizens over the security situation.
So much was the concern for this phenomena and its impact on the economic development that analysis were presented by a representative of the Inter-American Development Bank and a Community Organizer/Worker from Trinidad.
Dotting said that it is of interest that a development bank is involving itself in a matter of crime and security.
“Certainly crime and security impacts negatively on development and the fortunes of our people,” Dottin said.
He explained that from these analyses, the Commissioners were able to identify and isolate the individual risk factors that drive gang activity and violence in the region.
During the discussions the commissioners were able to examine some of the successful interventions implemented by Trinidad and Jamaica where gang activity is prevalent.
The commissioners also benefited from what was described as an excellent presentation on domestic violence by Dr Janice Jackson.
Guyana’s Commissioner of Police Henry Greene pointed out that the local law enforcement agency has been benefiting significantly from the expertise of Dr. Jackson and following her presentation at the conference, three other countries have solicited her assistance.
One crime that causes a lot of anxiety and fear in the region is the use of illegal use of firearms and there was comprehensive discussion on the issue.
Commissioner Dottin acknowledged that the matter is closely associated with the trafficking of illegal drugs.
He referred to the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding by most of the ACCP member countries with the United States to trace the origins of illegal weapons.
He added that the conference did see some intervention from intelligence experts who have helped the region’s Police Chiefs to understand how illegal weapons enter the jurisdiction and efforts are being made to attack the problem.
The region’s homicide rate was also high on the list of priorities for consideration.
Last year, the regions’ murder rate had reached alarming proportions and although in some countries it continues to spiral, Dottin was pleased to announce that there has been a general decline.
He recalled when Commissioners and head of military organisations met here in Guyana, last year, at the insistence of the regional heads, during an unprecedented and unacceptable level of homicides.
At that meeting a plan of action was devised to deal with the crime problems and the homicide rate.
“During this conference we had an opportunity for what we call country report-each Commissioner reported on conditions in their country since the plan of action was formulated…some of the reports were very encouraging,” Dottin disclosed.
It is generally known that the Caribbean is one of the most tourist dependent areas in the world and the Commissioners committed themselves to ensuring that the region remains safe and secure for this type of activity.
They will be taking forward some discussions on policing tourism from the conference.
But to deal with all these challenges the need for Police Forces throughout the region to be resourced and have capacity was underscored.
Forensic analysis also received attention during the meeting.
According to the ACCP president, Caribbean people expect their police forces to solve the violent crimes and this mandates the law enforcement agencies to improve on the use of technology, such as making forensic laboratories available throughout the region.
“We feel that the best use is not being made of them and certainly we have to rationalize the use,” he said.
He disclosed that the conference participants have recognized the need for Police Forces to be given the necessary forensic support.
Dotting stated the conference was very productive, adding that meetings of this nature enable the participants to share best practices.
“Of course we will be looking at some of the programmes that work in individual countries for possible use right across the region.
“Of course we set ourselves some action plans and we will be passing it on to the policy makers,” Dottin said.
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