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Government taking steps to curb robberies, burglaries – Minister


Government officials have taken steps to curb the series of robberies and burglaries which have been committed against students at the All Saints University at Belair.{{more}}

So says Cecil McKie, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport and Area Representative for West St George, the area where the medical school is located.

McKie said on Tuesday, during a press briefing, that he and members of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force visited officials and students at the school several times over last weekend.

And, according to the minister, based on personal discussions that he has had with Police Commissioner Keith Miller, several initiatives have already been implemented, including an increased police presence in the area.

Speaking at the press briefing on Tuesday, McKie confirmed that some students have had their places of abode broken into.

In the April 5 edition of SEARCHLIGHT, it was reported that during the months of February and March, eight students from Pakistan, Canada and Nigeria were reportedly victims of robberies and burglaries, some of which they said involved violence.

The most recent incident occurred on Monday, April 1, when a student’s apartment was broken into and according to reports, the burglar(s) made off with a laptop and other undisclosed items.

There was even one report of an attempted sexual assault on a female student.

According to the article, two of the students indicated that they were robbed at gunpoint at their homes and relieved of a number of items, including Ipods, Ipads, cellular phones and laptop computers.

Another student revealed that he was robbed of EC$8,000 worth of equipment.

Other affected students said that they had items “fished” out of their rooms and they have indicated that they do not feel safe anymore.

McKie said the situation was serious, not only for the community and the school, but for the country as well.

The Minister of Tourism said that with enrollment at the institution expected to increase to 200 in a couple of months, the present situation could not be tolerated.

McKie said a zero tolerance attitude needs to be adopted to stamp out crime, targetting not just visitors, but also Vincentians.

“We cannot seek to have an opportunity to allow our people to benefit and just destroy it,” McKie said.

The problem has been overwhelming for some students, who have indicated that they intend not to recommend the school to any of their friends.

They also expressed their frustration in the seeming lack of progress to solve any of the reported cases by the police.

One affected student said that he was robbed back in February and although he reported the matter to the police then, they visited his apartment once and to date no update has been given.

However, McKie said that he did not believe that police did not want to capture the perpetrators of the crimes.

He said that he believed that the authorities are committed to responding to criminal activity anywhere in the country.

McKie further stated that the police are quite aware of the sensitivity of the matter.

The police met with students and management, and according to McKie, are expected to meet with them on Tuesday to further discuss their concerns.

The minister said that he remained confident that with all the initiatives being taken, the issue will be resolved.

It was his intention to work closely with the school to ensure that students become a little more aware of their environment.

In response to the attitude of some students who said that they do not intend to promote the school, McKie said that that reaction was natural.

The solution to the problem, he said, was for all to sit and work together to solve the problem and to work with the police to ensure that they solved the crimes as soon as possible.

SEARCHLIGHT made several attempts to contact the Commissioner of Police, even leaving messages for a response on the issue, but up to press time, he had not returned our calls. (DD)