Barbados Today:-A former Barbados Government criminologist is predicting that the crime situation will get worse if the authorities fail to adopt a different approach to crime fighting.
Declaring that she was not surprised at the worrying level of gun violence in the country, Yolande Forde today said the continued reliance on jailing young people was not the answer to the crime problems.
In fact, the 24-year veteran who has worked as a consultant to the World Bank, the Cayman Islands government, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), said Barbados was now reaping the results of failing to introduce proper early intervention strategies.
Forde, who in 1997 produced a report entitled Criminal Risk Factors containing 20 recommendations which she submitted to Government, said this afternoon in an extensive interview with Barbados TODAY that those involved in the gun crimes and other acts of lawlessness did not wake up one morning and decide to do so.
“You asked if it [the report] is still relevant. To a large measure it is and in large measure a lot of the recommendations there seem not be have been implemented because I would see other areas of the press calling for the same things that I called for 20 years ago. If your priority recommendations have not been addressed then why are we expecting a different result?” Forde said.
The noted criminologist said the report dealt with what the inmates told her during indepth interviews about their community life, their moral and spiritual exposure, educational and school experiences, their criminal profile dating back to juvenile delinquency and family life.
Contending that crime was first and foremost a behavioural problem, she warned that crime would only be reduced by addressing all of the components essential for an effective crime reduction strategy.
“What Barbados needs and has needed for a long time is a comprehensive integrated crime reduction strategy. You need interventions and specific programmes and measures that come within the realm of criminality prevention. Number two, you need specific strategies that fall within the realm of what I call crime situational control. Number three, you need strategies and approaches that fall within the realm of crime response.
“In the Caribbean [including Barbados] we have placed an inordinate amount of importance on components two and three to the detriment of component one,” she noted.
Forde told Barbados TODAY this country did not necessarily need more police officers, stiffer penalties or longer prison terms, but rather more sensible sentencing options.
“Because there were not the right interventions, today we are reaping the effects, the outcome of those non-interventions in those persons’ lives. I say that with absolute certainty, because I have spoken to them. I know too many stories of situations like this. I am not saying we don’t need to have the other measures in the other areas. Of course we do. We cannot have strategies without a strong law enforcement element. But a strategy that carries those two components and not a serious and strong crime prevention programme that deals with early indicators of criminal behaviour is flawed and will never, ever reap the kind of results that we would want in terms of crime reduction in this country,” the transnational organized crime specialist cautioned.
“So the first point I want to make is when persons say, ‘what’s happening in Barbados? Why all these shootings? Wuh really happening?’ I am wondering what is all of this shock and alarm about?”
Barbados has been reeling from an upsurge in gun crimes, including 19 of the 23 murders recorded so far this year, compared to 16 of the 22 last year.
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite recently announced plans to summon the Barbados Defence Force to help in the fight against gun violence.