Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, has told the nation that Saint Lucia police are doing their utmost in overwhelming circumstances.
Chastanet spoke in a state of the nation address Sunday evening, hours after the country recorded its first murder for 2019.
The victim was identified by police as British national, ‘Bob’ Hathaway whose body was found covered in blood at his home in Piat, Grane Riviere, Gros Islet.
In the nationally televised address dubbed ‘It’s Our Time’, the Saint Lucia Prime Minister observed that at a time when crime is on the minds of most Saint Lucians, the government has had to spend much of the last 30 months sourcing and providing some of the very basic needs for the police force that were not available when the current administration came into office.
“In today’s world, if you do not have CCTV cameras; if you don’t have a forensic lab; if you don’t have a justice and court system that are working in tandem; if you do not have a DPP’s office that is properly staffed; if your policemen do not have proper communication systems and vehicles, if you do not have proper court buildings, you cannot say you are serious about fighting crime,” Chastanet declared.
“As if those problems were not a heavy enough burden, there are the related sanctions placed on the police in 2012, including travel and overseas training,” he noted.
According to the PM, the Labour Party government’s irresponsible handling of the IMPACS investigation has also contributed to the “sharp decline in the morale of our police, who are doing their utmost in overwhelming circumstances.”
Chastanet said that from the onset of his administration, steps were taken steps to combat crime at all levels, including instituting social programmes that address crime at its root.
“We first reopened the Forensic Lab that was closed for some years. As a result we were able to make significant headway in the investigation and prosecution of several rape cases on the island,” he recalled.
He stated that the Government is also now faced with another hurdle of tackling the current health and safety issues at the facility, which he is assured will be resolved in the coming weeks.
“We appointed a Director of Public Prosecution and increased resources for the DPP’s office. The new Police Headquarters will also include six new courts, a state-of-the-art control centre and improved facilities for our police,” Chastanet told the nation.
“Strategically, we have taken decisions to strengthen our police force and justice system, however, we recognize we still have a long way to go in providing the basics that are vital to serious crime fighting. We have invested in CCTV cameras and police communications systems which will be operational within weeks.”
According to the PM, all the necessary resources are being put in place.
“But similarly we will be asking for accountability,” he explained.
He urged his countrymen to do their part as good citizens to discourage crime and support their police force as the government puts various measures in place.