Home Affairs Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte has expressed concern that criminal elements are preying on vulnerable children to recruit them into a life of crime.
The Babonneau MP spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting on Monday.
She told them that some current crime surges in Saint Lucia and the Caribbean are due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You notice that during COVID, a lot of our young people were idle,” Poyotte recalled.
“A lot of our children were not in school, and therefore some criminal elements are trying to recruit them into criminal activities and offering them some money. So that is a breeding ground for criminals and therefore, we are seeing that upsurge in crime,” the Minister observed.
“Criminal elements see the children as very vulnerable. They will offer them money, and then they will arm them with the guns and the children do not have a fear,” Albert-Poyotte explained.
According to the Minister, because the children have no family or responsibilities, it is easy for the criminals to win them over.
“We have to pull them back,” Albert-Poyotte declared.
In this regard, the Minister spoke of the need to put a lot of resources into social programs.
“We have to go into the schools,” she explained.
Albert-Poyotte noted that the government is now putting resources in the hands of parents.
“As a parliamentary rep. I give a lot. The government is giving a lot to support parents to keep the children in school,” she told reporters.
The Minister also revealed that according to Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF) statistics, the average age for individuals entering the facility is now lower.
“We notice its a lot of young people who are coming into Bordelais,” Albert-Poyotte told reporters.