CASTRIES – The St Lucia government has unveiled a plan to deal with the rising crime situation that would involve use of troops from the Barbados-based Regional Security System (RSS).
The RSS was established in 1982 to ensure the stability and well-being of member states through mutual cooperation, in order to maximise regional security in preserving the social and economic development of our people.
Its members include Barbados, the four members of the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States, namely, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as Guyana.
Prime Minister Phillip J Pierre told a news conference that he has held talks with Police Commissioner Milton Desir as well as the RSS Commandant ‘and we are bringing RSS troops into St Lucia to assist members of the Royal St Lucia Police Service.
“They should be here sometime in July,” Pierre said, adding that his administration had agreed on other initiatives to curb the violence here.
“I am in the process of signing an agreement that will give the police service 14 new vehicles. The training vote that was stopped by the last government has been reinstated this year with EC$200 000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) and it could be more, but that is what we have now.
“We have started a swift justice programme. We are putting two million dollars in the budget to reduce on the backlog of cases that exist in the system,” Pierre said.
Desir told reporters that the police would also be moving to break the chain through which illegal guns enter the island and that a new Gang Investigation Unit had also been established within the police service.
“So we have to get the information as to how those firearms are coming in …and once you could break one of those channels then we believe we can safely dismantle the gangs. One of the most crucial part of the gang unit is the Financial Investigative Authority which would be going at the assets of those persons who are committing the crime,” Desir added.
Last month, the government tabled legislation to amend the Firearms Act that would increase both the fines and jail sentences for persons convicted for gun-related offences.
St Lucia recorded 74 murders last year and during the first five months of this year there were 25 homicides. (CMC)