Strengthen Existing Crime Prevention Programmes

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Long jail terms and harsh sentences are not the answer to solving Barbados??? problems with violence.

Rather, an Updated Homicide Study in Barbados for the period 2010 to 2014 has shown that existing social crime prevention programmes need to be strengthened and geared towards communities at risk of violence.

These were among points raised by Senior Research Officer with the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit (CJRPU), Kim Ramsay, as she released the findings of the study at Almond Bay yesterday.

The event formed part of the activities to mark Crime Awareness Month under the theme: The Faces of Violence in Our Society.

Noting that Barbados had experienced a relatively stable homicide rate over the last five years, Ms. Ramsay stressed that there was a need to take proactive measures to stymie the problem of violence across the country.

???With over half of all acts of homicides involving firearms, the firearm epidemic is a major cause for concern,??? she lamented.

Noting the incidence of murder was a developmental issue which impacted the economic and social development of a country, the Senior Research Officer said several approaches were presently being used to address the problem.

These, she said, included deterrence strategies, increased police presence in ???hot spots???, lengthy prison sentences and capital punishment.??However, an audit carried out under the study on existing social crime prevention programmes found that there was duplication, fragmentation, a lack of resources and a lack of monitoring and evaluation.

???Existing programmes do need strengthening. The programmes are useful in terms of self-employment skills, anger management skills and teaching of life skills. However, there is a need for specific programmes geared at the needs of communities at risk of violence,??? Ms. Ramsay stressed.

To address these deficits, recommendations emerging from the study include getting existing programmes to look at violence prevention, and to adopt other programmes as evidence-based ones that will deal with violence and reduction of violence in communities.

Ms. Ramsay suggested that programmes could be offered for boys on the block who may wish to leave the streets and lead more productive lives. In addition, she said, programmes could also address the psychological issues typical of violence, such as anger management, conflict resolution and the need for life-coping skills.

???The literature has also shown that effective programmes utilised former gang and gun-associated persons in violence reduction programmes because they can show how they got away from that life,??? the Senior Research Officer explained.

She maintained that rehabilitation does work, even though a lot of people did not have confidence in that method. ???With the appropriate resources and investment in these resources, after care and through care for persons released into society, it can be effective in reducing crime and violence,??? Ms. Ramsay said.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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