Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 09, 2017 (SKNIS): The wide cross-section of civil society partners attending Thursday’s (February 09) National Crime Reduction Symposium is a demonstration of government’s commitment to develop a broad-based strategy to enhance public safety and to include the recommendations of residents in the decision and policy making processes.
“This in my view is an example of the continuing commitment of the government to do all that is necessary to tackle and reduce criminal activity in our beloved federation,” Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, told persons at the opening ceremony.
Community involvement, particularly in issues related to law and order, has been a stated goal of the government and is captured in several documents produced by the security forces. The Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force developed a Six Point Plan to Reduce Homicides and Violent Crimes in 2015 and community engagement was highlighted as one of the priority points. Given that public support for law enforcement is an international best practice, the Regional Security System, which deployed several personnel to St. Kitts and Nevis in September last year to assist the security forces in carrying out a number of enhanced operations, made similar suggestions.
“They have recommended that in order to properly fight crime in our Caribbean countries we need a whole of society approach and we’re sure the gathering today (for the symposium) reflects just that,” Dr. Harris stated.
During the question and answer segment in the morning session, several opinions were shared about the effectiveness of the People Empowerment Programme (PEP), which sought to provide training and employment opportunities for persons, particularly young men at risk from antisocial elements. Dr. Harris indicated that PEP had strayed from its original design in 2012 as a temporary skills training programme and government has sought to refocus the initiative by introducing a number of positive reforms, enhancing accountability in the programme, and rebranding it as STEP, which stands for Skills Training and Empowerment Programme. STEP will be launched on Thursday, February 16 at The Circus at 4:30 p.m.
Another comment gave commendation to the government for bringing such a wide cross-section of civil society partners together from the public sector, opposition parties, private sector, non-governmental organizations, relatives of the victims of crime, school principals, youth, sports, community and church groups and other institutions and clubs.
The prime minister said that he was committed to working with all parties, and was focused on moving forward and not repeating the mistakes of the past.