Residents encouraged to be loud in opposition of gun-related crimes

Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 15, 2017 (SKNIS): Residents of St. Kitts and Nevis are being encouraged to “break the silence” and cooperate fully with law enforcement as the authorities and government work to enhance public safety and reduce criminal elements.

The call came from Honourable Vance Amory, Senior Minister in the Federal Cabinet and Premier of Nevis, as he presented on the Firearms Amendment Bill 2017, which passed in the National Assembly on Thursday (June 15).

The senior minister listed a series of measures taken by government to reduce crime which included increased support for the security forces; regular engagement with the Police High Command; reform of the People’s Employment Programme (PEP) into the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) to offer genuine technical and vocational training; and strengthening legislation to increase penalties for persons that run afoul of the law. However, he said residents should be brave and must speak up and speak out where criminal acts are concerned.

“Our people cannot continue to use the excuse of being afraid, not to come forward,” Honourable Amory stated on Wednesday night (June 14). “If they don’t give information when a crime is committed then it gives and it perpetuates the fact that the criminals feel safe and therefore the fear continues by those that don’t give the information. … That is why we are asking our people to join with the Team Unity Government, the members of the Assembly, and leaders in the community to fight the scourge of crime.”

The premier cited recent town hall meetings organized by the Department of Social Development in Nevis in Cotton Ground and in Rawlins that were held as part of an outreach strategy to bridge the gap between the police and the community, to promote open exchanges, and solicit ideas on ways to address crime from a community standpoint.

“At that meeting, there were about 12 persons,” Premier Amory stressed. “Nobody from the community, no parent, no aunty, no uncle, no fathers came. Nobody came to hear what we were saying. But yet when something happens [people say] the government isn’t doing anything,” the policy isn’t doing anything but they are not coming to be a part of the process of dealing with the issue of crime.”

He added that concerns about sharing information with police must be overcome.

“We need to break that cycle of silence. We need to change the attitude of our people in respect to how they see themselves and how they see their country,” said Honourable Amory, noting that one way of doing that was to educate children at an early age about positive attitudes and values.

While endorsing the Firearms Amendment Bill 2017, the senior minister encouraged the public to join with the government and express zero tolerance for gun-related crimes.