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  • NATION SECURITY’S CRIME-FIGHTING INITIATIVES TO FOCUS ON CAUSES OF CRIMINALITY RATHER THAN SYMPTOMS

    Undersecretary at the Ministry of National Security Eugene Poitier said, on November 9, 2017, that although The Bahamas is noticing decreases in certain offenses, the murder count continues to be of particular concern, and the levels of violent crimes remain at levels far too high for “such a small nation as ours.” “The fear of crime remains high, has the potential to stifle economic and social productivity, and impacts the quality of life of far too many Bahamians, residents and visitors,” Mr. Poitier said, as he spoke on behalf of Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames, at “A Symposium Connecting the Dots: Child Abuse, Trauma and Violence”, held under the theme “Working Together to Prevent Violence,” at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre. Mr. Poitier noted that the level of violence has not gone unnoticed by the international community. For example, he said, in a 2016 report by the Inter-American Development Bank, its researchers noted that in The Bahamas, “…high levels of crime and violence have consistently risen during the past decade.” “There is the realisation that if we are going to have any measure of success and positively impact crime, our programmes must be designed to aggressively address the root causes and risk factors,” Mr. Poitier said. “These factors include educational attainment, poverty, poor parenting and mental disorders, which are all having a profound impact on the socialization of our children. “This results in many of them turning to a life of crime.”

    Mr. Poitier said that that Ministry of National Security will create multi-agency and multi-disciplinary crime fighting initiatives to address The Bahamas' crime challenges and bring a greater focus to the causes or risk factors versus the symptoms. “The Government has established an inter-ministerial group made up of the Ministries of National Security, Education, Youth Sports & Culture, Social Services, Public Works and Labour,” he said. He added that the ministry is also expected to introduce shortly a holistic social initiative – national in scope – free from silos, that cut across ministerial boundaries and seek to “address those risk factors that are leading our young people to crime.” “The ministry is expanding this multi-disciplinary approach to members of civil society to lend their expertise and experience to the crime fight at the national level,” Mr. Poitier said. He noted that he had the opportunity to join Minister Dames in meeting with Dr. Sandra Dean Patterson of the Crisis Center, who shared details about the many programmes they have in addressing intimate partner violence and child abuse by encouraging victims to “stand up and not to just stand by.” “Given the significant number of domestic related murders, we have decided to partner with Dr. Patterson’s team and others in a meaningful and more tangible way to lower the number of domestic violence cases in our country, thereby reducing the number of domestic-related murders,” Mr. Poitier said.

    Ministry officials, he noted, had also had a series of meetings with Dr. David Allen and his team of experts, of the ‘People Helping People’ programme. “We discussed one of his explanations on the causes of violence, which he described as the Social Fragmentation Process,” Mr. Poitier said. This process, according to Dr. Allen, is manifested through revenge, which results in the disintegration of the family, the development of youth gangs and subsequently violence.” “Since nearly 50 percent of murders involve conflicts and revenge killings, the Ministry will partner with Dr. Allen and other similar programmes that seek to intervene in the lives of troublesome males at a young age, with a view to preventing them from becoming socially fragmented from society,” he added. Ministry officials also held discussions with researchers at the University of The Bahamas and explored ways in which UB can assist the Ministry in finding more evidence-based strategies to combat crime,” Mr. Poitier revealed. They also expressed a willingness to assist us with evaluating anti-crime programmes to determine what impact they are having on crime and safety indicators, he added. “The ministry is also establishing a Crime Advisory Group which will be made up of the business community, civil society, the religious community and other community partners, which will provide input and ideas on crime at the national level,” Mr. Poitier said. “A Technical Advisory Group will also be formed where independent members of the public with special skills, will be able to provide advice directly to the Ministry on cost effective and innovative crime fighting technology.”

    Mr. Poitier said that the on-going Citizen Security and Justice Programme will also be instrumental in seeking to address the level of violence in the nation. The programme, he noted, is made up of the four following components: Crime and Violence Prevention in Targeted Communities; Youth Employability and Employment -- increasing employability and employment of at risk youths between the ages of 15-25 years; Strengthening Prosecution Capacity; and Crime and Violence Prevention in Targeted Communities -- reducing the recidivism rate which involves the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders, so that, upon their release from prison, they are equipped to lead crime free lives. Finally, Mr. Poitier said, the Ministry was on the verge of launching a new programme that also sought to address the level of violence in the nation. “Funding in this upcoming Budget will be provided for various neighbourhood safety programmes which will involve community-based partners,” he said. “The National Neighbourhood Watch Programme will form the basis of bringing the community even closer to the police and to work collectively on matters relating to crime prevention.” “Such a Unit will set in place guidelines that will govern the operation of the programme,” he added. Minister Poitier said that it would include CCTV, and citizen patrols and programmes geared toward at risk youths. “We need all Bahamians to step up to the plate, and support the many initiatives that are ongoing,” he said. “We must all work together to ensure that The Bahamas becomes safer and more secure.”

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