‘Enough blame to go around’

THE island’s top cop is defending his officers, contending that the Force will not be made the scapegoat for challenges facing the judicial system.

Insisting that there is enough blame to go around, Commissioner of Police, Tyrone Griffith, maintained that the delays plaguing the court system are not the fault alone of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF). He made the comments while delivering remarks yesterday morning at the Annual General Meeting of the Barbados Police Association (BPA), held at the Police Band Headquarters, Prince Cave Hall, District ‘A’ Complex.

Commissioner Griffith’s comments came as he said that the Force is often looked at as the “salvation for everything”, with everyone looking to them to address all the issues in the society. But, he maintained those issues are much bigger than the RBPF. Nevertheless, he said they will continue to do their best, but they require others to take responsibility for some of the blame that is there to be apportioned. He made the point as he noted that the Force continues to face significant manpower shortages, while at the same time dealing with a burgeoning workload and greater demands being placed on them.

“Then it means that the same people are called upon to do the work over and over, and so there will be times when there will be shortcoming by members of the Force by not producing files. However, I get the impression sometimes that there is a movement to make the Force the scapegoat for the slow operation of the judicial system… I am sure that there are many, very serious matters before the court where there are files many years old that are not being addressed. Yet, when there is an assault case that is dismissed, that is highlighted. And I think we need to be fair if we are to address the whole issue of delays in the court system,” he said.

Meanwhile, he commended the BPA and its members for the role they have played in fighting crime in this country.

“Let me say crime is not a police thing, crime is the business of all Barbadians … but we have been able to manage crime well and if you look around the region, you will see that no Force in the region has been able to do quite as well as the Barbados Police Force in terms of addressing the crime situation, especially as it relates to violent crime,” he said.

The Commissioner made the point as he noted that at present, Barbados has the lowest murder rate per 100 000 of the population within the Caribbean region. He said that while Barbados has experienced spikes in violent crime such as murder, the Force has managed to deal with the situation effectively with the support of the rank and file.

Those sentiments were shared by Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite. He said that police officers must be commended for the tremendous sacrifice they made to bring the country back to a “sense of normalcy” following some periods where the country experienced an upsurge in violent crime.

“The battle to save our young people from criminal activity continues and always will be with us. It is a battle we must however try to win year on year,” he said. (JRT)

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