How comforting are the latest crime figures?
to imagine the universal reaction if during his most recent State of the Union address President Obama had said: “Every night before we go to bed Michelle and I pray for divine intervention in the Middle East and for the good Lord to protect our beloved America from the reaches of ISIS.”
Try to conceive of Manuel Valls, in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, telling the congregated placardbearing devastated millions at the Place de la Republique, as well as countless other protesters world-wide, that they should join the French government in praying for an attitudinal change on the part of Al Qaeda toward the United States.
Unimaginable, you say? So how does the prime minister of Saint Lucia—with its 500 and climbing unresolved homicides, countless reported and unreported rapes, escalating burglaries and a police force that is itself widely suspected of having committed several murders—get away with suggesting we should leave it to God to solve our crime problems?
This is how the prime minister put it this week, evidently having forgotten that God helps only those who help themselves: “As a nation we must pray for a more harmonious, tranquil and peaceful 2015.”
In the meantime, said the prime minister, the police that he had himself labeled corrupt here and elsewhere, “must be commended for its work in 2014, especially as regards social outreach.”
Additionally: “There have been specific interventions in some of our more troubled areas to minimize the incidence of gang-related activities.”
Ironically, the same “specific interventions” were at the heart of the recently concluded IMPACS investigation of extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by some members of the force on the orders of certain politicians.
In his New Year address on Sunday, the campaigning prime minister sought to make hay of what he described as “a reduction in the volume of major crime, including motor vehicle theft, burglary and sexual offences.”
He noted that the number of homicides had also reduced in 2014.
On Tuesday, the police mounted their own pedestal to repeat what for them was good news. However, it is doubtful that what they said—including that there were only 34 homicides in 2014—brought comfort to the relatives of the 500 victims of homicides still unresolved. Or to suspects languishing for years behind bars without a trial date. Or to the woman recently raped at gunpoint by two masked individuals, in the presence of her boyfriend.
In any event, the crime figures cited by the prime minister in his own political interest and by the police press officer with the badly tarnished image of the force in mind are less than reliable.
It is no secret that most rapes go unreported. Ditto burglaries and so-called sex offences, for several reasons, not least of them egregious police incompetence and the escalating effeteness of the whole justice system.
On average it takes five years to get reported matters before the court. The police force, thanks to its problems with the Leahy arrangements, is underfunded, demoralized, ill-equipped and undermanned.
The particularly bad publicity the force has received in relation to the unresolved murders of non-nationals, the latest being Ollie Gobat, has not helped.
Of course, the prime minister chose to avoid discussion of such life and death matters this week, as did the police at their own press conference.
Instead, Inspector Eddie Monlouis patted his colleagues on the back, saying that what they had achieved this year, despite all they’ve faced, was both “admirable and commend- able.”
Inspector Monlouis may have a point!
ACP Alexander, Police Commissioner Vernon Francois, acting Deputy Commissioner Frances Henry at Press Conference on Crime Stats Wednesday.