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Dr. Sharon Gopaul-McNicol

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, August 14, 2019 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is embarking upon a multi-cultural/ multi-modal/ multi-systems grassroots model as the structure for encouraging and assisting gang members to exit gangs, and one regional expert believes that this model can, within the next two years, become the blueprint for crime prevention programmes across the Caribbean.

Dr. Sharon Gopaul-McNicol is a Clinical and Forensic Psychologist with over 30 years of experience. She is now working with the Ministry of National Security, pro bono, to help in the successful build out of this programme.

Dr. Gopaul-McNicol, while speaking at a press conference hosted by the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force on Tuesday (August 13), stated that over the last few decades the response to crime and violence has primarily been a military approach.

“This is the first time that a country in the region understood that we had to go beyond the military approach and embrace a multi-modal/multi-systems [model], meaning many modes and many systems. You cannot address social conditions that are driven by problems born within the communities with a military approach and hence this entire model was born,” she added.

Dr. Gopaul-McNicol said what makes the Dr. Timothy Harris-led Team Unity administration stand out is that “It is the first time that a government actually committed to all the layers and levels that needed to happen.”

“So when the multi-systems approach came, the first thing that has to happen is that the government has to be committed and it requires the involvement of various ministries within this administration and then the second thing is that the persons who are involved in the criminal activities…it’s important that these youngsters are able to trust the system that is asking them to change their lives, and [the government is] going to create alternative avenues for you to live outside of the criminal world,” the Clinical and Forensic Psychologist said.

Dr. Gopaul-McNicol indicated that the revelation that gang members voluntarily handed over 30 illegal firearms to the Police Force through a trusted third party is a clear indication that these individuals are in fact trusting the system being put in place to eradicate social ills.

The overarching goal of the multi-systems grassroots model is to build Community Teams in different geographical areas around St. Kitts and Nevis with each team consisting of: (i) community workers who are born and or reside within the communities, who are familiar with the ‘happenings’ in a particular community, (ii) religious leaders, (iii) community leaders, (iv) youth leaders, (iv) Community Police Officers, and (v) representatives of Political parties.

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