PM addresses crime concerns
While praising the police force for its efforts to combat crime, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said yesterday that he is not completely pleased with the level of investigative work done before criminal cases are presented to the courts.
“We are fairly satisfied that the police are locating the criminals,”said Ingraham, who was a guest on the 106.5 FM show”Jeffrey”with host Jeff Lloyd.
“We are not totally satisfied with the investigative work prior to the charge-that the work going to court is done in total accordance with what is required to withstand defense counsel.”
He said that is one of the aspects the new Director of Public Prosecutions Vinette Graham-Allen is working on at the Office of the Attorney General.
Over the past few years several people charged with murder have been acquitted due to insufficient evidence. However, in some cases police believe that witness intimidation played a huge role in the disintegration of the prosecution’s case.
The work of the police and prosecutors has come under increasing scrutiny with a rising murder count and other serious crimes.
Over the weekend the country surpassed the old murder record with the killings of two young men.Theodore Berry, of Woodes Alley, and Nicholas Huyler, of Nassau Street, both 22, were gunned down in separate incidents, marking the third murder record recorded in the last four years.
There have been 88 murders recorded in The Bahamas so far this year.
Asked yesterday whether he believed the police are doing enough to fight crime with the resources they have, Ingraham said he believes the authorities are doing a good job.
“I commend them. I am pleased with the job they are doing. I expect that they will have even greater success in coming weeks and months.
“…One of our big problems in this country is drugs. Drugs is influencing many crimes, most especially those related to murder-many are hit killings where people are contracted to do so, or they are turf wars between various people.”
Police statistics have shown that in the past three years drug-related killings contributed greatly to the high murder count.
Ingraham said the country’s somewhat dysfunctional criminal justice system is also adding to the crime problem.
“Our system to some extent is not quite functional-whether it’s the system with the police in apprehending, prosecuting and then having the courts dispose of the cases. We have huge backlogs of cases notwithstanding the huge resources that have been pumped in the system. There are many things that do not connect,”he said.
Ingraham pointed out that when he was elected to the House of Assembly in 1977, there were only 14 or 15 murders in the country. He added that in 2001, there were only 40 murders in The Bahamas.
“It’s double the number now nine years later. Much of this is to do with drugs. Much of it has to do with the same persons involved in the same crimes over and over again. We are seeking to ensure that there is greater coordination with all of the agencies that have the responsibility of dealing with this matter to be more effective. But today there is a degree of dysfunctionality in relation to the legal judicial system when it comes to tackling crime.”
Many in the community believe the escalating crime rate has more to do with the social ills in the community rather than a broken judicial system.
And while Ingraham agreed that the social ills do contribute to crime, he said he is perplexed why some people chose to live a life of crime.
“I’d like to find out how we can identify them and how we can deal with them,”he said responding to a question about how the government was addressing the social ills that foster crime.
“What do I do about the family-what am I to do that the society can’t do, that the law can’t do, that the police can’t do?What can I do as the prime minister of The Bahamas?”he questioned.
Ingraham said he’d be happy to take advice from the public on the issue.
In the meantime, he said the government is hoping that the practice of persons being left on bail for years is discontinued.
“There are many issues that need to be fixed. It’s taking more time than I would like it to take but I can see some light at the end of the tunnel.”
He said the government is”absolutely satisfied”that Graham-Allen has the management skills to make some substantial changes so that matters are managed through the system.