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Last updated: 02 March, 2011 - Published 13:20 GMT
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BBC Caribbean crime forum
BBC Caribbean InterActive on March 27th dealt with crime in the Caribbean
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.
Howard, St Elizabeth, Jamaica

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.
Harold, London

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.
Jean Louinel

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.
St Kitts

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.
Gavin Emmanuel
St. John's, Antigua

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.
Saddlers, St. Kitts

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.
Fareed Mohammed,

The causes of crime in the Caribbean are in my view due to poverty, lack of education and therefore lack of real job opportunities.
Sue Justice, UK

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.
Brian Thomas,
Georgetown Guyana

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.
This crime wave will continue as long as drugs continue to be illegal instead of licensed.
Meb Cutlack,
Bullet tree Village, Belize

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.
Oakville, Canada

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.
Remy Joseph
Reserve, Dominica

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.
Charlotte Nanton,
Camberley, UK

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.
I am an ex narcotics and violent crimes officer from Belize and in retrospect I believe that better education and better standard of living for the poor and middle class could greatly benefit the region…
Peter Gutierrez,
Waukegan-Illinois, USA

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.
Agriculture should be rejuvenated to reduce the cost of living.
Inner city experts from developed countries should be deployed to work closely with youth in gangs.
Court prosecutors should have background of law or be former lawyers...
Pauline Waruguru,
Charlestown, Nevis

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.
Secondly the death penalty needs to be urgently revisited.
Last but not least there is so much adult learning facilities available, including skills training centres, hence, guys who are always wasting times hanging around street corners night and day should be forced to pick up academic or vocational areas of study, which in the long term will present them employment opportunities. There is an equal opportunities for everybody to get something in Jamaica. Right now, high school education is free. My experience of Jamaica is that whoever is not meaningfully employed and is employable is downright lazy!
Vesta Smith
The Valley, Anguilla

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!
Mitra Ramkissoon
Schärding, Austria

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.
Ave Le Blanc
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

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, I am of the view that Governments throughout the region to be less stingy when it comes to equipping their police forces with the right tools required for the prevention and or detection of crime. Are officers paid well enough? Another thing that I have noticed is the fact that the court system is one which leaves much to be desired as I am of the opinion that no crime should be allowed to go unpunished.
Lastly, I will speak of the deportees. There is much need for law enforcement agencies paying more careful attention to the many young men being deporting from places such as Europe and the US.
Lester Victor
Vieille Case, Dominica

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.
We must speak out and stand up for what is right, question what is wrong before things get better. Look within the Caribbean to resolve its own problems and issues like NAFTA would have little chance. Disastrous results like what happen to Jamaica with bauxite etc., the banana export strangling the small farmer all play a part of the economic stagnate we are facing in the Caribbean.
Kevin Thompson
Freeport, Bahamas

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
Bridgetown, Barbados

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.
Greg Boyea
Brooklyn, USA

As a born Trinidadian, I can only speak for that country. What happened to the capital punishment system? Why isn't it being used?
Nora James,
London, England

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.
I believe the first step in addressing the crime issue is to take a close look at the porous, under-patrolled coastline of the islands where a large number of illegal firearms enter the territories.
A large number of weapons enter the islands. Statistics show that most of the violent crimes committed in the Caribbean islands are gun related. In order to achieve success in reducing violent crimes Caribbean governments must first educate coastal communities, those who daily make a living from the coast. Sensitize these communities of the effects that this illegal activity can have on the lives of the residents on a whole. No government in my view can totally stop the illegal entry of firearms into its territory. But it can surely reduce the number of violent crimes. Hefty fines and long prison terms are definitely not the solution to the problem.
Glenroy Morton
Basseterre, St.Kitts and Nevis

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.
Tessy Hutchinson
Toronto, Canada

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.
London,England and Trinidad

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!
Led Brown,
Black River, Jamaica

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?
Port of Spain, Trinidad & To

It is probably time to re-introduce national service.
Castries, St.Lucia

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.
Andrea Moore
Georgetown, Guyana

The police must be paid good wages. Pick the cream of the crop and train them to be officers.
George B Solomon
Saskatoon, Canada

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.
Frankie Thomas
St. John's, Antigua

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).
Tony Webster
Bridgetown, Barbados

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.
Tamico Gilbert
Nassau, Bahamas

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.
My advise to the leaders is simple; create and trained a united special force to fight crimes, much like the FBI; seek the hands of a mercenary army, such as Blackwater. Everyone from the Caribbean knows that the Police is useless in certain cases. What about merging the Police and Soldier forces together; use the best to form the special force and the rest for local community work. A special force is needed, one where police can cross islands and international lines just like the brainless criminals. This would be helpful in cutting down the mystique which criminals gained and dispense on local communities to gain popularity.
Craig Johnson
Atlanta, U.S.A

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.
Barrymore Watkins
Baltimore, USA

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.
Roger Roopchand
Georgetown, Guyana

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.
Clare Senior
Coventry, UK

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