Gun Crime in the Caribbean

Posted on 12th December 2017

The Double Tragedy of Hurricanes and Crime Costs Caribbean Countries Their Young and Risks Their Tourist and Investment $

Andy Williams

Managing Director at Andrew Williams Consulting

At a time when the world is focussed on the devastation caused across the Leeward Islands by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, governments like Antigua and Barbuda are seeking huge donations to rebuild their countries and support their people. These same governments also need to tackle the emerging tragedy of violent gun crime and gang violence that has blighted some of the region but has not yet hit the international headlines, save for some Latin America countries, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean.

Despite having 9% of the world population Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) accounts for 33% of the homicides in the world. The reasons behind this startling statistic remain those of social insecurity and criminal justice systems falling short on standard measures of effectiveness. A lack of capability, capacity, effective investigative tools and police forces that see policing as something that is done 'to' society rather than ‘with’ and for it further contribute to this failure within the justice system.

In Antigua and Barbuda the opposition UPP and DNA parties are calling for the government to develop and implement a comprehensive security strategy to counter this tragic trend. Developing strategies and effective plans to reduce crime and provide secure societies requires investment, yet of the countries that need the investment most of them are those with the fewest resources. UNODC homicide rates for 2015 showed that small Caribbean nations like St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Kitts and Nevis had homicide rates greater than 20 per 100,000 population. This is an unacceptable and unsustainable loss of potential. By comparison New York recorded 4.2 and London 1.3 Homicides per 100,000 population for the same period.

What is clear is that, in small island states, policing is something that must be done 'for and by' the community through public participation and 'its' police service, not something done to the community by a 'force' detached from it. At AWC our experience of developing such national security strategies and supporting security sector reform, suggests that too often governments and donor countries focus rightly on enforcement but not enough on community engagement and participation; too much on weapons and not enough on the effective gathering, analysis and use of intelligence, too much on the latest thing and not enough on developing solutions contextualised to the needs and circumstances of the beneficiary country.

At this time of recovery after the devastating hurricane season it is important that the governments of the Leeward Islands consider their spending and ensure that they spend wisely on maintaining the security of their citizens and visitors to encourage the tourist dollars that will aid them to repay loans and invest in capital projects to improve the lives of their countrymen and women. This is an important and increasingly urgent part of rebuilding their nations and set alongside an infrastructure recovery plan could really bring a silver lining from both the national and personal tragedies of 2017.

Andrew Williams Consulting has developed a Multi Dimensional Modelling (©MDM) approach to formalise and systemise the successful work undertaken by its key staff and provide cash poor countries with a solution contextualised to their circumstances.

To find out more about the costs of crime see The Costs of Crime and Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean and for details of homicides globally see these UNODC statistics. To find out more about Andrew Williams Consulting and how we can support governments, police and judicial reform contact us.

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