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Pierre Outlines New Police Powers Under Suppression Of Escalated Crime Bill

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On Thursday, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Philip J. Pierre outlined new police powers under the Suppression of Escalated Crime Police Powers bill, a measure he described as ‘extremely serious’.

He said the measure gives police the power to end the situation in Saint Lucia, where a violent crime surge in Vieux Fort recently resulted in seven people being shot dead in separate incidents.

Under the bill, police officers could question people, block a road, set up a cordon, require the removal of a vehicle or other articles, or access land or a building.

In addition, an officer above the rank of Inspector would have the power to close premises and give directions regarding the control of firearms and explosives.

However, Pierre explained that before the police exercise any powers under the bill, the Minister of National Security must pass an order, essentially a statutory instrument, to designate a particular area as an escalated crime zone.

He told parliament the instrument would prescribe the order’s boundaries and duration.

“In exercising these powers, the bill protects the police officer from the institution of an action, suit or prosecution or other proceedings once the police officer acts in good faith that is in compliance with the bill,” the Castries East MP told parliament.

Escalated crime constitutes serious acts that disturb the peace and threaten life and property.

They include offences against the Anti-gang act, the Drugs Prevention of Misuse Act, the Firearms Act, and offences against persons as outlined in the Saint Lucia Criminal Code.

In this regard, the bill prohibits people from doing anything to interfere with using a road or path or assaulting a police officer while executing his duties.

And the Minister of National Security can arrange for an outside security force to assist the local police in implementing the bill.

“If an offence is committed under the bill, the penalty as provided in the bill is on summary conviction a fine of $50,000 or imprisonment for fifteen years or both, or on conviction or indictment for 25 years imprisonment,” Prime Minister Pierre disclosed.

Earlier, the two opposition MPs in the House, Micoud South’s Allen Chastanet and Choiseul’s Bradley Felix, voted against suspending Standing Order 48:2 to allow Pierre to proceed with the remaining stages of the bill at Thursday’s special sitting of the House.

Ten members on the government side who were present voted in favour.

“Let it be put on the record that when the government of Saint Lucia is trying to put in place legislation to avoid, or to help the police, to empower the police to stop the escalation of crime, the opposition voted against it,” Pierre declared.

“The opposition, led by the member for Micoud South, supported by the member for Choiseul came to this honourable House and voted against the police,” the Prime Minister asserted.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Not even under the national security banner can these parties come together. Why is Bradly and Allen voting against the bill. Obviously they want the PM to fail.

    But on another note. Why is everything about police. I heard no mention about the courts as it relates to bail specifically.

    I think bail in a big problem in Saint Lucia. You have guys on bail still engaging in criminal activity. Some of these people need to locked up indefinitely…NO BAIL!!

  2. the reason why the opposition voted against it they see that when you pass this bill there are police that are going to abuse their powers and not use it justly

  3. you see how face they can change laws but up to now they cant change the amount single parents getting for child maintenance

  4. The government’s response to the Vieux Fort situation is too superficial and police centric. Both Kenny Anthony and his SLP government makes it seem that the problem is a police problem, but the police is only a small part of the solution. So while we welcome additional police powers, I can assure you that they won’t do much to solve the problems the town currently face.

    For starters, what happens if the “gang violence” erupts on a weekend. How does the police get approval under that piece of legislation to deem that area an escalated crime zone, bearing in mind “that before the police exercise any powers under the bill, the Minister of National Security must pass an order, essentially a statutory instrument, to designate a particular area as an escalated crime zone” So tell me how does that help the current situation when as we just witnessed seven persons being killed in 48 hours. How does that help us Mr. Prime Minister when everything about that piece of legislation is reactive. Now for argument sake, let’s say the police applies and receives approval, how long would it take for them to mobilize. All that time we the residents would be facing the wrath of the criminals, with our family members being murdered by the dozens. And when the police do finally mobilize, wouldn’t the criminal elements just lay low and disappear in the shadows until the period granted for the escalated crime zone, expires – just like they did when you announced the impending arrival of you RSS officers.

    So Mr. Prime Minister while your legislation is a step in the right direction it is still a bandaid. We want solutions not temporary fixes. We want NORMALCY not MORNALCY.

    SO SIR let’s start with cutting political ties with the “gang leaders” for this will definitely free your hands in taking more stringent actions.

    Take a critical look at the criminal justice system and correct the deficiencies. When last was there court in Vieux Fort? How long does it take for criminal matters to be heard? How long do the accused persons have to spend on remand before their cases are heard. Just asking.

    Modernize the RSLPF. Strengthen is human resource capacity by hiring more capable men and women in order to have a more sustained presence on the streets. Treat them like human beings and ensure that they work a fair day’s work – not the 48 hour tours that most of them currently work. Ensure every officer is furnished with protective gear. Get them proper insurance coverage – from what I was told what currently exists is woefully inadequate. Stop the political interference. Ensure that promotion is on merit and not political patronage. There should also be constant and relevant training, strengthen the intelligence gathering capacity of that organization, introduce drones to their criminal fighting arsenal and so on.

    Create employment for the youth of Vieux. Get the docks active again. Being in foreign investors and undertake activities such as the construction of a marina or any other business which will function as an engine to spur other developmental activities. As it stands now Vieux Fort has nothing!!!! and it has all happened under the watchful eyes of Dr. Anthony who served as Prime Minister for fifteen years. So SIR, if you want to see meaningful change in Vieux Fort you need to have an all encompassing response to our issues, developmental and otherwise. Those piecemeal stopgap measures will not work!!!

  5. @ James. It’s the elephant in the room that nobody has noticed. Bail is the conduit that funnels those characters back on the streets. Because they are out on bail doesn’t translate that street dynamics are not in play. They generally rearm for protection and going on the offensive. Some of them might not get their hands dirty, however, they provide leadership that gets the dirty job done. Pierre’s war will only provide a very temporary peace. This can’t be serious, if gunslingers are immediately cycled back into the population.

  6. Re Article! I hope that the N/S will do their job that they have to do without the opposition dictating to N/S How to conduct Operations…
    The Opposition leader should focus On providing gainful employment for the Island people at a fair living wage system, to help us out of Poverty and Crimes.. He should Focus on the other side of the coin and create jobs/employment at a fair living wage, system of $10 per hour based on 40 hrs weekly..
    IT is nearly impossible for someone to live a healthy, and mentally living wage of Currently $7-8,000 a year based on $3-4 00 hourly..
    Most of our current workers, can and never be able to own a piece of St Lucia.. They become the working poor… And that’s what we have in St Lucia..I am asking the business owners of St Lucia to play a well needed role in paying all their workers a living wage of $10 per hour… Currently $3 and $4 per hour creates the working poor..
    Folks! Let’s Use commonsense.we can’t move forward without a MONEY!? Fact.
    If we share the wealth by paying the lowest salaries a fair living wage so they can have some spending power, and by doing so,then! The spending will generate the system to create jobs..
    Please share the wealth by paying us a living wage…
    I endorse my thoughts.. Focus commonsense.

  7. Look at how they get 4 million to put youtes in prison but not one vacotional school the can build for life skills they changing laws everyday but can’t enact a minimum wage of 10 dollars an hour so the youtes can go and work in a hotel or a security company or hardware store or a gas station

  8. The government’s response to the Vieux Fort situation is too superficial and police centric. Both Kenny Anthony and his SLP government makes it seem that the problem is a police problem, but the police is only a small part of the solution. So while we welcome additional police powers, I can assure you that they won’t do much to solve the problems the town currently face.

    For starters, what happens if the “gang violence” erupts on a weekend. How does the police get approval under that piece of legislation to deem that area an escalated crime zone, bearing in mind “that before the police exercise any powers under the bill, the Minister of National Security must pass an order, essentially a statutory instrument, to designate a particular area as an escalated crime zone” So tell me how does that help the current situation when as we just witnessed seven persons being killed in 48 hours. How does that help us Mr. Prime Minister when everything about that piece of legislation is reactive. Now for argument sake, let’s say the police applies and receives approval, how long would it take for them to mobilize. All that time we the residents would be facing the wrath of the criminals, with our family members being murdered by the dozens. And when the police do finally mobilize, wouldn’t the criminal elements just lay low and disappear in the shadows until the period granted for the escalated crime zone, expires – just like they did when you announced the impending arrival of you RSS officers.

    So Mr. Prime Minister while your legislation is a step in the right direction it is still a bandaid. We want solutions not temporary fixes. We want NORMALCY not MORNALCY.

    SO SIR let’s start with cutting political ties with the “gang leaders” for this will definitely free your hands in taking more stringent actions.

    Take a critical look at the criminal justice system and correct the deficiencies. When last was there court in Vieux Fort? How long does it take for criminal matters to be heard? How long do the accused persons have to spend on remand before their cases are heard. Just asking.

    Modernize the RSLPF. Strengthen is human resource capacity by hiring more capable men and women in order to have a more sustained presence on the streets. Treat them like human beings and ensure that they work a fair day’s work – not the 48 hour tours that most of them currently work. Ensure every officer is furnished with protective gear. Get them proper insurance coverage – from what I was told what currently exists is woefully inadequate. Stop the political interference. Ensure that promotion is on merit and not political patronage. There should also be constant and relevant training, strengthen the intelligence gathering capacity of that organization, introduce drones to their criminal fighting arsenal and so on.

    Create employment for the youth of Vieux. Get the docks active again. Bring in foreign investors and undertake activities such as the construction of a marina or any other business which will function as an engine to spur other developmental activities. Focus on the youth, reopen the technical vocational school which those who are not academically inclined can learn a trade. Develop long, short and medium term strategies for the development of the youth in that town – where you would like to see the you in the next ten years or so. Most of them will move away from the gangs if there is sustained employment of other opportunities, in the town. As it stands now Vieux Fort has nothing!!!! and it has all happened under the watchful eyes of Dr. Anthony who served as Prime Minister for fifteen years. So SIR, if you want to see meaningful change in Vieux Fort you need to have an all encompassing response to our issues, developmental and otherwise. Those piecemeal stopgap measures will not work!!!

  9. So, I read some wonderful ideas and suggestions posted in response to the article. But one comment suggested that the opposition leader create jobs and provide fair wages/ salaries? Ma’am, in what capacity can the opposition do that? Isn’t that the job of the government agency in power? So if that is the responsibility of the opposition, per your suggestion, what is the role of the people you voted in?

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