BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, March 02, 2022 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – With significant investments made over the last seven years to bolster national security, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris has said that the Team Unity-led administration is experiencing significant movement towards achieving a stronger and safer future for all citizens and residents.
“In our support for law and order, the Judiciary and in the build-out of our socio-economic programmes, the Team Unity Administration has been delivering on its commitment to keep our people safe. In this regard, it is important to note that the highest ever level of financial support provided to our people’s safety and security was in 2020 when $99.2 million was budgeted to National Security. This was up some $40 million or 68 percent above the $59.4 million budgeted for 2015 by the bygone administration,” said Prime Minister Harris on the Tuesday, March 01, 2022 edition of Leadership Matters.
The honourable prime minister reminded the nation of the dire situation St. Kitts and Nevis was in with respect to rampant crime and violence prior to the Team Unity Government. In 2011, homicides in the twin-island Federation reached an all-time high of 35.
“It is good to know that homicides – the most egregious of all crimes – are now at an all-time low and we are experiencing significant movement towards achieving that stronger and safer future our citizens and residents were promised and deserve. We have achieved the best crime detection rate in over 20 years last year,” Dr. Harris said, while noting that there is still no room for complacency.
The national security minister said that his government’s success in crime fighting is as a result of substantial investment in the security infrastructure. This includes building new and renovating other police stations, defence force and coast guard facilities; investing heavily in its CCTV monitoring system; providing an adequate supply of vehicles, and the construction and build-out of a Forensic Laboratory.
Prime Minister Harris further noted that while investing in hard infrastructure and improving the working environment for law enforcement, officers are critically important, they alone will not get the job done.
He added, “It must be buttressed by training, intelligence-led proactive policing and introduction of strategic programmes that de-incentivize criminal activities and encourage persons to become law abiding citizens and residents. Two such novel programmes are: (1) the Explorers Youth Programme with its structured orientation, training and development support for our young people, emphasis on skills of learning to live and work together, inculcating positive lifestyles including the discipline to refrain from the use of drugs, guns and illegal substances. The second strategic intervention I wish to make reference to, of course, [is the] Alternative Lifestyle Pathway Programme. This is geared at adults, many of whom were engaged in criminal activity or under the influence of gangs. The programme is still new and evolving but the results so far have been beneficial to our society as a whole.”
These programmes have since resulted in greater cooperation between the police and the community, safer school environments across St. Kitts and Nevis, reduced inter-gang rivalry and the number of fatal shooting incidents in the country, and an overall greater sense of peace and safety among citizens and residents.