Tribune 242 | Rising Crime Spurs Efforts To Cut Down On Violence

Tribune 242 | Published July 15, 2014

By Khrisna Virgil, Tribune Staff Reporter

RISING crime trends in the Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean involving youth have led an international organisation to spearhead an accreditation programme with a view to enhancing anti-violence strategies.

According to Shanna O’Reilly, programme director with the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), the United States Embassy listed the Bahamas as a priority to receive support with social crime prevention initiatives.

Officials said yesterday that youth-on-youth crime in addition to youth driven violence was on the rise in the region.

With that, the Resistance and Prevention Programme (RAPP) will be hosted at the Police Training College on Thompson Boulevard.

For the next five days, RAPP will cater to 20 officers of the armed forces who work with Urban Renewal and come into contact with marginalised youth on a daily basis. A variety of topics will be covered, including gangs and organised crime, domestic violence, politics and its relation to crime along with ethics and professionalism.

Ms O’Reilly said:”The programme was designed based on countries where we thought (would have the largest) impact as well as enhance inter-agency collaboration here in the country. (The) Bahamas was one of the major priorities for the US embassy here in country and so that also went into the calculus. Crime statistics wasn’t the whole, but it was a part of the picture.

“The programme has a big focus on social crime prevention so the idea behind it was looking at larger social issues and how that impacts and plays into crime and violence when it takes place in communities. So not having it be just a police focused approach or an approach that comes out of one particular agency, but rather different agencies together in an holistic fashion in a unified approach to crime prevention and to address some of these issues through a larger more complex initiative.

“(We) looked at crime data and what is happening across the region. Certain types of crimes are on the rise and some are not. We pulled a lot of the data from different sources whether it was the Bahamian police data or international police organisations.”

Bahamas Programme Coordinator Dr Novia Carter said RAPP was expected to enhance community initiatives.

She said: “We are now looking at what steps we can take to help a lot of these marginalised young persons. Those who aren’t connected to families, who aren’t connected to schools, persons who aren’t connected to their communities. What we are trying to do is develop programmes so that people could look at police officers not only as friends but as mentors.

“Our whole push is to develop strong programmes, strong community initiatives that are geared toward making sure that all young persons in the commonwealth feel connected.”