Friday calls for national response to crime

Kingstown, St Vincent – Leader of the main opposition party – the New Democratic Party, Godwin Friday says crime is in such a state across the country, that it needs a national event to bring people together to address it.

“We need now almost a national event to sort of say, ‘Listen, we’re pulling the brakes on this. Everybody; as a society. This is not something that you should be dealing with as a partisan political issue’,” said Friday, while speaking on a local radio programme.

“I mean, let’s start with a big national event. And I am going to organise it if nobody else will do so, where the community comes together and says, ‘Listen, as a community, we’re going to do something about this’,” the opposition leader said.

He was speaking in the aftermath of an incident in which a woman was killed, becoming the eighth homicide victim this year, and the third in less than a week.

“We have to have greater trust between the police and communities for dealing with offences because this is where you get conviction. This is where you get people feeling that … if I do something, other persons are going to cooperate with the police and we’re going to deal with it.”

The opposition leader said his proposed national event “is not kumbaya”.

He said there is a national response whenever there is a national crisis, as demonstrated “more dramatically, more clearly” when there is something like the volcano erupting.

Friday added that his national event would not be another iteration of Pan Against Crime, which he described as “one minor drop in the bucket.

“This involves everybody; the whole notion,” Friday said, adding that a small programme can help a few people.

“But we’re reached a point now where the situation has become one where the entire community now is feeling that this could happen anyway. It could happen to anybody. And that is a feeling … that creates fear and a feeling in the community that we have lost out to criminals.”

Friday said that the police have to be more professional and reassure people who are cooperating with them and providing information to them.

“Let us, as a community, say, ‘Listen, this is gone too far. Let us come together and find ways in which we can all work to bring our communities safe again.’”

He said this starts with a national event that will galvanise the public “and then any actions that are taken following that should have better buy-in and better support from communities, from law enforcement, from politicians, from everybody.

“But that gives less space for persons who commit offences, who think that they are going to be able to just ride this out and get away with it.”

He said the narrative that some of the crimes involves a certain set of people and do not concern the rest of the population is nonsense

“… crime is crime, no matter who committed it, where it’s committed, and the state has a responsibility to deal with it and to make our citizens feel safe. So, we have to get rid of that narrative entirely.” (CMC)

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