Director of the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit, Cheryl Willoughby, in discussion with (l-r) CEO of Trident 10 TV, Kimtara Clarke; CEO of Stronghold Entertainment, Darin Holder; and Managing Director of Screenplay Advertising, Shane Lewis, at the launch of a crime awareness jingle to signal the start of Crime Awareness Month 2019. (B.Hinds/BGIS)

Barbados’ record number of 41 murders so far this year has spurred renewed calls for young people to get involved in the crime fight, and for creative and innovative approaches to be taken in the messaging for that demographic.

Director of the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit (CJRPU), Cheryl Willoughby, made this call recently as the CJRPU launched a crime awareness jingle to signal the start of Crime Awareness Month 2019, under the theme Eye on Crime.

The video mainly targets gun violence through the use of lingo specifically targeting young people.

“Forty-one murders is something that is unprecedented in Barbados.  We have never had so many murders in any given year.  So, it is time that we step out of our comfort zone; out of the regular way of doing things and look for innovative ways to reach our young people.

“It means using social media to a large extent because that is where they are. They are on Facebook, Instagram…, all the platforms.  So, it is important that we use what they are using in order to get our message to them.  This is important because the number of murders we are seeing does not only affect the criminal justice partners across the island,” she stated.

The director also encouraged other young people to get on board as many ideas were not in keeping with the ideas of young people. “We have to go where they are – on the blocks, the highways and byways of Barbados,” she said.

She explained that there was a social impact to crime, which also carried a high cost to all involved, including families. “When you have 41 persons who have been murdered; you also have 41 perpetrators; you also have 41 families that have been impacted.

“What we have recognized is that over 98 per cent of the persons who are victims and or perpetrators of these violent crimes are young men between the ages of 20 and 29.  These are young productive men that should be contributing to the development of our country….

“It has a social impact and the cost of incarceration is high.  You have to look at the total cost.  You have to look at the cost of hiring persons to work within the prison, the cost of feeding, the cost of transporting, the cost of criminal justice personnel; it is costly when we look at crime in Barbados,” she said.

Mrs. Willoughby further outlined that families, particularly children under the age of 10, also suffered as their fathers, usually the primary breadwinners, were incarcerated, leaving them without support.

“So, this problem is not a criminal justice problem.  This is a problem that has to be owned by Barbados,” she said, stressing that there was a need to look at the country’s value system and how persons communicated with each other.

The CJRPU partnered with Trident 10 TV, Screenplay Advertising and Stronghold Entertainment to produce the promo.

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