International agencies, Barbados police visit federation to examine police operation with gangs
Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 27, 2019 (RSCNPF): A team of representatives from a number of agencies in Barbados visited the Federation last week to examine the success of the current Police initiative to curb gang violence.
The representatives came from the offices of the United States Embassy and the British National Crime Agency (NCA) – which are responsible for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean – and the Royal Barbados Police Force.
Senior Manager with the British National Crime Agency, John Bowman, explained that he has been amazed with the results the Police are having in St. Kitts and Nevis. He was first updated about the initiative by the High Command.
“When they informed me that they had some success and they had this operation running, I was keen to not only congratulate them on the amazing success that they had, but also to learn and get a deeper understanding as to how exactly the Police Commissioner and the other senior management team [members] managed to deal with this,” Mr. Bowman said.
The Senior Manager at the NCA disclosed that he was going to share the information he gathered about the initiative with some of his colleagues and other Caribbean countries that the agency supports. Mr. Bowman has 32 years of experience as a Police Officer. He described the operation as a “new concept” that was “surprising, strategic and tactical.”
“I have to say that even I was surprised at the level of success that they’ve achieved. It’s outstanding,” he added.
He also said that he was impressed by the number of firearms that have been taken into Police custody through the effort. According to Mr. Bowman, his agency has worked with St. Kitts to help tackle the high levels of violent crimes that have been occurring. He said that while the NCA was focused on drug trafficking matters primarily, it also helped to support local crime initiatives in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean through technical assistance.
“The [use of] violence and firearms is an epidemic throughout the Eastern Caribbean. Most of the islands are suffering with increased levels of violence and firearms-related deaths, so anything we can do to try to assist and support the Caribbean community, we will do so.”
Since February, gangs in the Federation have been involved in a peace initiative which has had several significant outcomes. The Police had been engaging gang members during their operations, then some of the members indicated to the Police that they wanted to put an end to the violence that was taking place among them. The Police then sought the assistance of the Ministry of National Security and an Interim Engagement Team comprising members of different sectors of society was put in place to work with the members to provide various levels of support to help them get involved in alternative lifestyles. As a result, for the period March 01 to August 26, there has been a marked decline in the number of homicides and non-fatal shootings. The members also recently handed over thirty (30) firearms as a sign of their commitment to the peace effort. The firearms are now in Police custody.