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How do we tackle this apparent rise in crime?

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There are far too many guns on the streets of St Vincent and the Grenadines in the hands of lawless, misguided individuals who have no respect for human life.

Too many of our citizens, especially young men, are unemployed or under employed and find themselves with far too much time on their hands and far less money in their pockets than they would wish to have, making some of them susceptible to the lure of filthy lucre.{{more}}

Our mental health service in its present under-resourced state is proving inadequate to deal with the growing and varied cases of mental ill-health, including the criminally insane who walk the streets of the country.

Increased communication, access to information, travel by our people and the return of criminal deportees have made it possible for those with criminal tendencies to unleash new methods of evil on the general population while minimizing their chances of getting caught.

The result of this is what appears to be an increased number of shootings, robberies and burglaries. Statistics from the police may not support the appearance of an increase in crime, but a person’s perception is his or her reality.

Our tiny, under-resourced nation is reeling from this multi-pronged attack which has forced many decent, law abiding citizens to retreat by sundown behind the bolts and bars they have had to install on the doors and windows of their homes.

What do we do? Do we throw our hands in the air, surrendering to the status quo seeing that crime is on the increase everywhere? Do we increase the ranks of the police force, while providing law abiding citizens with guns to protect themselves?

Many have called on the churches, civil society and political leaders to make statements, but we doubt the efficacy of statements and speeches — they seldom reach or have any effect on the desired target audience.

While having a better resourced police force and more armed homeowners may potentially serve as a temporary deterrent to the criminally minded, a more sustained and sustainable approach to crime reduction will more likely come with solid economic growth which would allow for the creation of quality jobs through an expanded private sector and improved social, health and housing services.

We must work together to build this country’s economy — that should be the priority of every Vincentian, at home and abroad. Since the global economic melt down of 2008, we have been struggling to meet the competing needs of the country, while constructing the largest capital project in the history of the country — the Argyle International Airport. Hopefully, the imminent opening of the airport with act as a catalyst to economic growth, resulting in positive ripple effects in other areas, including the reduction of crime.

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