BBC Caribbean crime forum
On March 27, BBC Caribbean hosted a regional call-in program on crime, especially violent attacks, in the Caribbean.
The programme was in advance of a special meeting of Caricom leaders, scheduled for April in Trinidad, to discuss the issue.
All this comes as the crime rates continue to spiral across the region and concerns mount over its immediate impact on victims and their families and the longer term social and economic implications.
The programme addressed the types, causes and possible solutions to tackling crime in the region.
If you missed the live broadcast on Thursday, you can listen again by clicking on the audio button.
You can also continue to have your say on crime in the Caribbean by taking part in our online forum.
Your views so far
I am a Jamaica and the problems with crime and voilence is huge.I personal believe than there needs to be a greater sense
of stability interms of security in the region and other countries out side of the region needs to help also so because caribbean
countries do not make guns so how do they get here?countries like the Usa needs to help us fast because the problems are spreading.
I am a Jamaican residing in London. I have also lived in T&T. The Caribbean need not reinvent the wheel. We also need to stop
looking to the US and UK as a role model. We need to develop within the confines of our own realities. If we need good social
role models, then we should look to other places such as Northern Europe, where there is prosperity, a better social order
and less crime.
In my observation, Jamaica in particular has chosen to, ironically, fight crime on some false premises. There is a great deal
of pleasure attached to the current trend of crime in Jamaica. Crime is fed on the conscious pleasure of the entertainment
industry and the national media that continually broadcast the songs that are more inspiring to criminality or “gangsta” lifestyle.
Entertainers are the most significant role models in the Jamaican society; young children and teenagers pay keen attention
to material they put out. If one writes a song that calls for change and personal responsibility it is less likely to get
aired on Jamaican radio and Television. Gun lyrics and loosed living constitute for the most part the content of entertainment
in Jamaica and Jamaican music is greatly appreciated in the Caribbean. I find it inappropriate to blame everything on poverty
while there are other significant factors and indicators of crime promotion.
Combatting crime requires many efforts and approaches. In many cases, criminal investigators must be fully trained to deal
with the level of crime that we are facing. Forensic training must be a priority; the police force must also attract people
who are highly intelligent and have the intrinsic motivation to acquire the necessary skills and expertise to do their jobs
properly and effectively: in other words investigators must be experts in criminology. Also, parents have a very pivotal
role to play; we cannot overlook this aspect. I still believe that parents are responsible for ensuring that their children
become law-abiding citizens; citizens who are required to have the skills and attitudes to live in civil societies. Maybe
if parents do their jobs we may have less young people who have no qualms in killing some one or dealing drugs. We must continue
to find solutions to this scourge affecting our region.
If one looks seriously at the increase and types of crimes in the one would realize that there is a preponderance of gun-related
and violent crimes. The question is from where did the guns come? As far as I am aware we have no gun factories in the Caribbean.
The finger points at the United States, a country with some of the most liberal gun laws in the world. Then we have political
dynasties in the Caribbean who have been the facilitators of guns coming into the region. As a matter of fact, it is my belief
that many persons in official positions are the ones bringing in the guns. Additionally, large numbers of criminal elements
are being deported from Britain and the US where they learnt their trade. Our police forces are not sufficiently equipped
to deal with these persons who diffuse their "knowledge" of criminality to those in the Islands. So what is the solution?
The answer, my friend, lies within the power of each individual to effect meaningful change to the powers that be. Only then
will we see a change in our situation.
I believe to resolve the issue of crime I believe we must start from the basics: the home, family, community, church and the
school. If these five areas are dealt with meaningfully we will have a brand new generation for years to come. But how do
we deal with the present crisis, we need regional and international alliances...Finally, but not least, Caribbean people are
considered Christians so leaders can set aside periods of prayer and fasting, in other words returning to God or our first
love, and there bound to be a change.
As a Trinidadian, I can say there are many reasons for the crime situation, such as [corruption at the highest levels]. The
citizens do not expect any better and therefore do not push for change. The situation will only get worse.
The causes of crime in the Caribbean are in my view due to poverty, lack of education and therefore lack of real job opportunities.
When you are a big fish in the sea, there is always justice. When you are a smaller fish, the world is unjust. I left Guyana
six years ago and the reason was because of crime. However I have relatives throughout Guyana and I fear for their lives everyday.
Our government is aware of what is going on and chooses senseless methods to remedy the problems…foreign help is what is needed,
mandatory foreign help.
The sophisticated international drug rings operating between Colombia, Mexico, and the Caribbean to the USA, on the one hand
and the street level drug wars, on the other, are the greatest cause of crime throughout the Caribbean.
I am of Jamaican descent, and through the stories my mother has told me, I believe there is too much corruption [at the highest
levels]. This is not just an issue of the present but has been part of Jamaica’s history for about 40 years after their independence
in 1962. What Jamaica needs is a new government system that will be there to facilitate the best interest of those they are
supposed to be governing. The issue of crime can be related to the mother land Africa, where corruption within [some of] their
governments have led to devastating impact on the growth of the economy and the politics of the continent. What our world
is lacking is selflessness. Until we as people start to treat each other as brothers and sisters then this predicament of
crime within the Caribbean and the rest of the world will continue.
Really, I think we have to keep focus on the lives of the people, especially the youths. Governments need to create or help
them create employment for themselves in order to stay away from crime. Idleness is the devil's playgound.
Caribbean governments should take a hard look at the deterioration within society at all levels and ask if a law [such as
one from] some Middle East countries should not be applicable. That is, if drugs are used, offered or dealt then the death
sentence should apply. It is a harsh reality but dealing with drugs inflicts death on others so it would seem obvious that
the source has to be treated as they treat others. They do not care who dies once their pockets are filled with cash. Warnings
should be issued on all landing immigration cards. Children have to see that this is a death sentence either way.
Professionalism within the police Departments must improve, a required educational level with matching pay for officers could
greatly improve the amount of unsolved crimes and cases lost.
The governments cannot tackle the crime issue alone. Professional bodies, Faith Based Associations, NGOs and CBOs must be
innovative on how to curb crime. Free vocational training for youth can help reduce crime. Light industries can offer youth
jobs and social education carried out at work places.
I am a Jamaican who lived in Jamaica for most of my life therefore I will speak solely about Jamaica. I do think there is
the need for greater gun control hence a closer look at the customs department is important.
I am originally from T&T so it is infinitely sad to see the breakdown in law and order. Of course the illicit drug trade plays
a large part in the equation. The Americans and Europeans have failed the region on this! The Caribbean is suffering as a
result of demand for drugs in these countries! All platitudes thus far are just hot air and empty promises. The home-grown
side of it is the breakdown in social standards and lack of respect for human dignity! The police and legal systems are antiquated,
understaffed severely underfinanced. T&T votes continuously along racial lines, allowing corrupt and self-serving administrations
into office. The introduction harsh punishments for murder, drug pushing and violent crimes can only be accompanied by education
of the youth parallel to zero tolerance in youth crime. A system of national service would allow the "system" to reach youth
that exist in the parallel "black-(market) economy!
I am a Trinidadian. I remember when people were once afraid of the police - that is not the case anymore. People are robbing,
raping, murdering etc. in the open as if they are not afraid of anyone! We need to put back corporal punishment into schools
to curb violence at an early age. We should also consider renewing the death penalty. Stricter measures are needed for smaller
crimes. I would love to see my country back to the way it was- but if something isn't done- that will be lost, forever.
While it may be evident that the level of crime in this Caribbean region has grown sharply, the hash reality remains the fact
that with development comes crime. But with that said I am not by any means saying that such fact is one that we should accepted
all the same. Many factors need to be looked at in dealing with the growth of crime throughout the region, but I shall limit
my concentration to just a few aspects often sidelined.
Firstly, the rise in crime, moreover violent crimes, is not a Caribbean problem, but a world problem. I do not condone crime
and would be the first stand up against it, but let’s see it for what it is. How do you expect a child to learn on an empty
stomach? How would a man/woman feel if he cannot provide for his family? The only jobs available are working a field or
some factory for second citizen wages. The few government jobs are not paying well and the pressure of financial strife is
hitting even the highest of positions (excluding corrupted officials). The same under paid police officer who only know hard
times growing up struggling day after, now wears a police uniform, but still feels the pain. Without proper training and
salary will go to what he knows to provide for family and self. So, now that the people lash out to be heard, we scream bloody
murder, when we elected the government that sold its people for a pound or shilling.
The Caribbean countries need to bring back hanging, and when someone kills another person, sometimes intentionally, they plead
2nd degree murder, and get maybe five to ten years in jail. What about the victim? What about their families, don't they
have rights too
The drug trade and deportees plus corrupt Govt officials are to blame for the rising crime rate in the Caribbean Basin. The
way to deal with the rising tide of crime is to stop the flow of cocaine and guns to these island nations. The US and England
should play a greater role in supporting the governments of the Caribbean. Furthermore the high unemployment rate has a great
influence on crime and destruction.
As a born Trinidadian, I can only speak for that country. What happened to the capital punishment system? Why isn't it being
Firstly, I want to openly thank bbccaribbean for affording me the opportunity to air my opinion on such an important issue
that is affecting the English-speaking Caribbean.
When we talk about crime in the Caribbean first we have to look at the leaders. We cannot expect to stop crime in the Caribbean
when the very people you put there to uphold the law are the very same one that is breaking it as well as involving citizens
of the community as well. Another is the very people who come into the Caribbean countries, that the government give permits
to set up business all for the sake of jobs for the people, which in often time is not for the people but for themselves.
Another is the amount of drugs that are coming in.
Crime is rising due to the 'Americanisation' of the islands, brought about by cable TV. We need more local TV stations showing
‘we’ (our) culture.
In my opinion, crime is a symptom of the decay of capitalism. Its primary causes are social decay and social marginalization
of the socialist class. Discuss!
If Governments weren’t so corrupt and would have only do for the people as they were elected to do, then they would not have
to worry about the crimes they help grown in the Caribbean. I learned this in the Military, "Seek Responsibility & Take Responsibility
for Your Actions." When will we ever practice what we preach?
It is probably time to re-introduce national service.
I am a Guyanese and am fed up with the whole crime situation not only in my homeland but the region at large. But I would
not look outside my own country. The government of Guyana is playing politics with crime and unless that stops, Guyana for
sure would not make any progress with crime.
The police must be paid good wages. Pick the cream of the crop and train them to be officers.
If we as a region would just stop for a minute and turn to 2Chron 7:14, I believe we will find if not all, most of the solutions
to our problems today. We need to humble ourselves and turn God and admit we have left him out of all our daily lives. What
is happening in the Caribbean today should not be so much of a surprise to some of us... cause we saw it coming but we do
nothing thinking that it wouldn't happen to me. Though it might be a vexing issue to some of our leaders in the Caribbean
we have to admit that most of our problems comes from those harden criminals who are dumped on us day after day from the United
States. I urge our leaders as they sit to devise sollutions to our ever growing problem, to look carefully on this aspect
of it and see if there can be dialogue with the powers that be to stop this "Crime Dump." We are loosing our young people
and our prisons are overcrowded.
The social fabric is seriously torn and weakened, with radical life-style changes "the norm": spreading crime and drug scene
(latter now into schools);loose morals/parenting; weak-kneed enforcement of laws; politicians deliver" in context". Only hope
is to change the next generation, with more emphasis to teach young'uns moral values from birth. Requires crusading political
leadership, to open average citizen's eyes (sorry, brain).
Now more than ever, our region needs to integrate. We need to carve out a stronger sense of Caribbean identity. We need
to cooperate regionally on crime. We need to support the CCJ and work to make our judiciaries more efficient. We need better
regional media to highlight and weed out corruption. A regional equivalent to the "FBI" as suggested by another commenter
is a wonderful project. We need to create more economic opportunities across the region. The Bahamas is one of the most
Cari-skeptic countries there is, and such isolationist attitudes will only hurt in the long run. Divided we fall.
I am pleased by the current measures taken by Caribbean leaders to stem the flow of crime on the Islands. However, I am still
skeptical about a few things. How will they attack the causes of crime without eroding human rights or taking them away period?
How will criminals who commit crimes in the U.S.A and Great Britain and roam the streets of our Islands be dealt with? How
will politicians who are involved be treated? Yet, I see progress. Some Islands are doing a good job of addressing this problem:
Jamaica is doing a better job than normal and Tinidad should also be cridited.
If one is found guilty by their peers in a civil and democratic society, then on should except no less than HANGING. Don't
let outsiders determine what is fair, and what isn't fair. They are just outsiders.
As we all know there have been two massacres in Guyana this year already. The motives for these killings aren't still very
clear. Crime in Guyana needs to be dealt with in a different way. I don't think we can have a Caribbean solution for crime
in Guyana. Guyana is not an island, it is much bigger than the Caribbean islands, with wide open borders to Venezuela, Brazil
and Suriname. There are endless possibilities for criminals escaping, acquiring guns, etc. Over 80% of Guyana's landmass is
forest and dense jungle, and that can provide adequate hideouts, etc for criminals. The causes for crime here are as anywhere
else, with the major factors probably being poverty and narcotics. However, these 2 massacres. have nothin to do with poverty.
The narcotics problem is a great one in ths region, and I beleive the only way it can be dealt with is to cut the demand for
the drugs. The US is where the demand is. Cut the demand and the supply would suffer also.
The crime rate in Jamaica is rocketing.....guns are not made in Jamaice so how are they getting into the country??I think
there should be goverment schemes to give the young men something to other than hang out on road corners.