In recent years, there has been much said about the rise in burglaries and violence in Barbados and the very young ages of the alleged perpetrators.
This situation has captured the attention of the affected public because of the number of young people committing these acts, and the police are continuing to stress the need for increased vigilance and co-operation in our communities. As a matter of fact, with the climax of the Crop Over approaching, it is now necessary for people to exercise extra caution when going to party, as well as securing their belongings, whether at home or on the go.
These developments have long been resonating throughout this country, but changes in the structure of the traditional neighbourhood throughout the years as well as the breakdown of the extended family, have influenced the interaction between neighbours and social groups.
As unemployment levels continue to rise, many remark about the state of our young men, especially about those who do not work and who are not looking to be gainfully employed either. This is coupled with the fact that there is a growing separation between those who have a stable income and the block culture. More and more, with the growth of new residential areas, householders are increasingly prone to living in these neighbourhoods without knowing and/or communicating with their neighbours. This results in a failure to develop good relationships between neighbours, which in turn contributes to the divide that is only going to become deeper if allowed to continue. This is the main obstacle to Neighbourhood Watches across the island.
The Neighbourhood Watch is an organised set of citizens devoted to the prevention of crime and vandalism within a neighbourhood. Any suspicious activity within that community is then reported to the authorities. It was noted before that “we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to criminal activity and perhaps find ourselves in a similar position to some of our neighbouring islands”.
The main challenge in communities is that through our self interest and loss of brotherhood, we are allowing the criminal element to flourish. Consequently, a conscious effort should be made to rectify this situation before the crime situation blossoms out of everyone’s control. Sometimes, it seems that Neighbourhood Watches have decreased to the point that they are non-existent. However, there is still time to encourage young people to “join these groups and take up leadership positions” in order to ensure continuity of crime prevention through this method.
In addition, instead of focusing on the faults of young people, neighbourhoods, through several activities, can have vibrant organisations ably led by these strong and active members of the community, who are also being affected by crime in Barbados. They should not be discounted since a holistic approach is needed to ensure the safety of our communities.
Barbados remains a relatively safe destination, especially when compared to some other Caribbean islands. In order to maintain this enviable record, earned over the years largely thanks to the sterling work of the Royal Barbados Police Force, as well as the commitment of our citizens, every community must get on board with the Neighbourhood Watch. We will all reap the benefits from this initiative.