by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Leader of the People’s Action Movement (PAM), Hon. Shawn Richards, in a recent statement on February 3 concerning the recent murders in St. Kitts and Nevis, said, “when SKNLP is in office, crime increases in the Federation.”
In the address to the citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis, Richards said the statement on the current state of criminal activity in the Federation was not an attack but undisputed data.
“As you all know, crime has been a major issue in our country, with some of the highest levels in the Caribbean during the years 1995 to 2015 when the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party was in office. This is not an attack. It’s undisputed data and perhaps more than a little significantly correlated.”
Reaction from the public shows growing concern about the current instances of violence in the Federation and has somewhat created fear of criminal activity escalating in the country.
While Richards indicated that his statement was not an attack on the current administration, he pointed out that the SKNLP’s promises of a safer and more secure future during the 2022 election season have not been met six months into their stint in office.
“My purpose in addressing you today is not to throw stones but to offer solutions, to call for strategic interventions if we are to prevent crime and violence from spiralling beyond our capacity to exert control within our borders. The people of St. Kitts and Nevis were promised that the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party would provide a safer and more secure future for all citizens. But it seems that those promises, the foundational tenets of a productive society, were nothing more than election gimmick.”
Prime Minister Hon. Dr Terrance Drew said during an interview with press on February 3 that the SKNLP administration is working on strengthening law enforcement bodies in the Federation, including the Police and Defence Forces, Customs, Immigration and more, to make sure that people are safe. Dr Drew also mentioned a program to be introduced that targets at-risk youth susceptible to criminal elements.
The future of the Alternative Lifestyle Pathway Fund (“Peace Program”) was also called into question by the PAM leader, pointing to the promises made by the current administration to improve the locally controversial program.
“The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party promised to improve the Peace Program during the campaign, but instead, it has created uncertainty about its future and has done nothing to improve it as promised. This raises serious concerns about their ability to effectively address the issue of crime in our country. The Peace Program is a crucial initiative to tackle the root causes of crime. It is a visionary program that brought together community organisations, government agencies, and the private sector to provide a safety net for our citizens. It is, therefore, highly irresponsible of this new administration to create such uncertainty with this critical program.”
Dr Drew also indicated that payments under the Peace Program continue, and improvements to the program are still ongoing.
What solutions did the PAM leader suggest?
Richards said the PAM stands ready to work with the government on solutions and called on the SKNLP administration to act swiftly to address and arrest social ills in ways that are proven to ensure the safety and security of the people of the Federation. However, the member of the parliamentary opposition did not offer actionable solutions in his ten-minute address on what he called an escalating crime situation.
Is it fair to say that there is an increase in criminal activity? Comparative data from the authorities showing the crime statistic over the last five years for the same period would prove that statement true or false. The media awaits the statistics from national security.