Basseterre, St. Kitts (June 27, 2017) — President of the St. Kitts-Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce Mr Jose Rosa said on Sunday June 25 that his organisation now understands the new initiatives the police have in place in its quest to combat crime and lawlessness in the Federation, and is urging those in the private sector to support the initiatives.
“We basically understand what they (police) are doing and what their role is,” said Mr Rosa. “What we can do is for the private sector to support that initiative and engage with the government and the police to ensure that the goals that they have, which are the common goals for the society, that we support them and the police will achieve them.”
The Chamber of Industry and Commerce President made the remarks after a closed door meeting between the Government and the Chamber, and the Hotel and Tourism Association held at the Marriott Hotel which had been brokered by Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr the Hon Timothy Harris.
“It has been a concern in the Chamber and the members are concerned about the increase in the wave of crime in the last few months, and the meeting was initiated between both parties, the Prime Minister and the Chamber of Commerce,” said Mr Rosa. “The Prime Minister called me on Saturday to set up the meeting and I was able to raise some additional members of the chamber to initiate the conversation to see what the government is doing.”
Accompanying Mr Rosa at the meeting were Mr Damion Hobson, immediate past president of the Chamber, Mr Mark Wilkin, a former president of the CIC and Rosa’s advisor, and Mr Nick Menon, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority and former President of the HTA. Mr Menon is also a director of the TDC Group of Companies and according to Mr Rosa, he represented the private sector because TDC is one of the members of the chamber.
On the Government side with the Prime Minister at the meeting were Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Mr Osmond Petty; Commissioner of Police, Royal St Christopher and Nevis Police Force, Mr Ian Queeley; Deputy Commissioner of Police Mr Hilroy Brandy; and Comptroller of Customs Mr Georid Belle.
“The Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Hotel and Tourism Association are the face of our robust economy, and the Unity Government will do all within its powers to ensure that their members operate in an atmosphere of peace and security,” said Prime Minister Harris in a post-meeting interview.
“The meeting was a very informative one for all stakeholders. The Police High Command outlined the new initiatives and operational plans going forward. Police responded to query from the private sector stakeholder groups. From the responses of the stakeholders it was very clear that they now have a better appreciation of both the challenges and successes of our law enforcement agencies.”
According to the Prime Minister, the fact that the police had a sixty per cent detection rate on homicides on St. Kitts for 2017 was noted by the stakeholders as a very good record. He added further that the overall detection rate relating to major crimes was above 40 per cent, which was way higher than the international average.
“Those facts were important from the assurances the High Command gave that the police was achieving results and was diligent in combating crime,” noted Dr Harris.
The meeting focused primarily on issues of law and order and how the two stakeholder groups, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and the Hotel and Tourism Association could work constructively with the government to ensure the highest possible level of safety and security. In the course of the meeting the High Command updated them as to a series of new initiatives that will be implemented to dramatically reverse the upsurge in crime.
The Police Commissioner Mr Ian Queeley, in commenting on the importance of the meeting said: “This meeting that was initiated by the Hon Prime Minister and the Chamber was a very useful exercise in terms of the outcome. We sat for a very long time discussing ways in which the Chamber and the Police can complement each other’s activities in order to ensure a safer and more secure St. Kitts and Nevis.”
The Police Commissioner observed that the meeting was timely in terms of the discussions on crime. The Chamber and HTA raised legitimate concerns about the environment in which they operate.
Based on the statistics, among the major crimes for which there has been a comparative reduction 2016 vs 2017 are: Homicides, shooting with intent, other bodily harm offences, sex crimes (including rape, indecent assaults, and unlawful carnal knowledge), and firearms possession. In some cases, it was noted, the reduction was in double digits.
Other areas identified for example burglaries and break-ins which were up, the police will mount an effective operation to combat to those crimes, and in the coming months gangs will be targeted and there will be disruptions and displacements of the gangs, since gangs in large measure are the key source of the lawlessness in the country.
“The police can in a positive way indicate that we have had some successes. Speaking to the number of homicides on St. Kitts alone we have sixty per cent detection,” said Police Commissioner Queeley “Suffice it to say that the Chamber has given a commitment to assist and communicate to their members some of the strategies that we would have outlined to them that we think can work, and they have also given a commitment to speak to the media and in particular these persons who operate social media.”
In speaking to the issue of social media, Commissioner Queeley said: “We are asking persons to be responsible and verify what is happening before they press that button to send it because at the end of the day the negativity affects the entire country, and we want also to appeal to the public to continue to partner with the police.”
The Chamber President Mr Rosa said that he would like to see a more responsible media, and more responsible reporting by the media. He understood that the media has its work to do but factual reporting must be honoured. And the media also should consider the manner in which it reports and highlights certain types of information and their implication for the wider society.
“I respect the media,” said Mr Rosa. “I respect the work that the media does on a daily basis, it is part of a free society that we have, and I respect them as a powerful tool that keeps the society in the way that we are. The only thing that we have in the media now is we have the social media that is difficult to control.”
He advised the police to use social media to send out their messages as most of the time many people do not even read the papers as they go directly to the social media.