Persons residing in St. Kitts and Nevis who are caught up in gangs or are otherwise engaging in antisocial activities and wish to abandon such life, have been offered assistance by the Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris.

At Tuesday’s (August 23) sitting of the National Assembly, Prime Minister Harris said “those who are willing to turn from a life of crime will be helped by the relevant government agencies and NGO (nongovernmental) community.”

“We offer to help our citizens and residents turn away from criminal activities and the gang culture in particular, and to embark upon a path of reform and redemption,” Dr. Harris said. “We offer to help them in finding jobs, opportunities for self employment and other constructive engagement but they of course must want to make that positive change and meaningful change.”

The comments were made against the backdrop of a recent meeting between the High Command of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force (RSCNPF) and influential persons within gangs. Commissioner of Police Ian Queeley said the meeting was held last week Tuesday (August 16) with a number of at-risk young men from troubled areas in Shadwell, Newtown, McKnight and [St. Johnson] Village.

“We discussed what were their concerns and issues and what role they can play in nation building,” the Commissioner said, declining not to give too many details so as not to breach confidential information that may have been gathered or to betray the identities of the young men. He did share that the meeting was “very productive” and that the police officials will continue their dialogue with various community members and groups to promote greater understanding, trust and a better working relationship between law enforcement and the public.

Prime Minister Harris used his address in Parliament to “thank individuals and groups in the country” who have supported the security forces as they carry out their various functions to enhance public safety. He, however, had a warning for persons who continue to engage in criminal acts.

“Those who are determined to continue on a path of lawlessness will be vigorously pursued, apprehended and made to face the full weight of the law,” the Minister of National Security said. Additionally, Dr. Harris encouraged residents and groups to “step up the level of support” for the security forces and law and order on a whole in St. Kitts and Nevis.