Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Dale Marshall, has described the recent acts of unlawful firearm activities as “a spike” in crime and not a case of criminal chaos occurring on the island.
“You will note that I have referred to this increase in firearm crime as a spike. I use this term deliberately because that is exactly what it is, a sharp increase in numbers over a short period of time. This is not an indication that Barbados has descended into a state of chaos or outright lawlessness. We have dealt with spikes in crime before and effectively so,” Mr. Marshall said.
The Attorney General made these comments today during a press conference at Government Headquarters, which dealt with the current crime situation in Barbados.
Mr. Marshall shared statistics relating to murders and firearms between 2017 and present day, and highlighted the Barbados Police Service’s (BPS) clearance rate of solving murders, which he said compares favourably to some of the world’s more developed countries, with far more manpower and resources to investigate criminal matters.
“In 2017, of those 30 murders, 16 have been solved so far. In 2018, of the 28 murders, 19 have been solved, that 19 amounts to 68 per cent. In 2019, 27 of the 48 murders reported were solved; that’s 56 per cent. Of the 41 murders committed in 2020, 26 or 63 per cent have been solved [and] in 2021, 23 or 72 per cent of the 32 murders were solved. And for this year, of the 17 murders thus far, 10 have been cleared up and some of those have only happened in the last few weeks,” the Attorney General disclosed.
He also noted that the outstanding unsolved cases are not cold cases, but are “actively being addressed”.
Mr. Marshall also revealed that the number of firearms taken off the streets since 2017 was 465, as well as thousands of rounds of ammunition. He added that only yesterday a successful police operation had seized a significant number of high calibre handguns.
The Attorney General also stressed that “Government is not unmindful about the disquiet” the recent spike in firearm activity has caused, and said Government and the BPS would not have a knee-jerk reaction to the situation, but would be conducting a thorough analysis into the many variables, including the causes that are leading to the spike in firearm incidents.
“…This is the approach that my Ministry and law enforcement has taken…. The strategy that the enforcement agencies have adopted with the full support of Government is based on initiatives to address the supply and demand for guns,” he said, noting that Government is continuously addressing causal social variables, such as housing, employment, and training for young people.
Mr. Marshall said that the gun crime situation did not develop overnight and he would not disclose all of the strategies in place to combat crime on the island, but gave the assurance that Government would continue to do what is necessary to address the issues that lead to criminal activities.
However, he pointed out that all of the solutions did not lie with government interventions, and called on Barbadians to play a role in helping to reduce crime on the island.
“We have to accept that dealing with firearm crimes requires … a whole of country approach, not all of government approach. Governments do not raise children, plain and simple; governments do not live in communities; we do. The Government is committed to doing its part but I call on all Barbadians to recognise that with all of the work that the Government does, if each of us does not recognise that we have a significant role to play in rooting out some of these challenges, then we will get nowhere,” Mr. Marshall emphasised.
The Attorney General also issued a warning to those involved in criminal activities. “A word of warning to our young men, because they’re all young men, who by their action have been threatening our public safety. Your numbers are few. The people of Barbados are many; you cannot and will not win. You will not be allowed to drive Barbadians into their homes and away from their normal pursuits out of some fear that you have our streets and our communities hijacked with guns.
“You, few villains, will not be allowed to make any further inroads into our communities. You will not be allowed to take over our streets; you will not be allowed to disrupt our daily lives and our livelihood. I assure you, as I assure every Barbadian that every single resource at the disposal of the government will be brought to bear against you and you are warned not to test our resolve,” Mr. Marshall declared.