With sixty recorded homicides in 2017, forty-two in 2018, and four so far for this year, it is clear that a serious crime problem confronts “simply beautiful” Saint Lucia. Challenges faced by the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force range from manpower and equipment limitations, to the non-availability of local forensic analysis. The United States-imposed Leahy Law sanctions also prohibit the police from taking part in any training activities sponsored by the US.
Does the remedy lie in the Saint Lucian government providing more money to the force? During an interview with ACP for Crime & Intelligence, Wayne Charlery, he pointed to the fact that the budget for the department of Home Affairs and National security is among the top five in the country. “With the country’s scarce resources,” he said, “security is getting a big chunk of what’s available.” Regrettably, much of it is used to pay salaries, with little left for physical resources, vehicles and so on. There is next to no money for training.
“Now I’m not making a case for the government,” said Charlery. “I’m just telling you my view on this thing. Ours is the fourth largest budget; should we be the first? Should we be the second? Some might say the security of the people is paramount but that decision is not ours to make.”
Compounding the issue, Charlery says, is that the country is experiencing crime on an unprecedented scale—a crime rate that suggests we are a much bigger country in terms of population and available resources. Charlery says the solution lies in holding true to our values and realising what is important. He says we need to become better neighbours, and that means not sheltering friends and relatives involved in illegal activities.
The ACP insists that, despite the public outcry, there are no plans for another Operation Restore Confidence, and what the police are doing right now is trying to be consistent each day. “Before Restore Confidence we had Restore Peace, and before that something similar. It’s almost like you have to come up with something every decade if you hope not to be overwhelmed by crime.”
He may have a point: In Trinidad, cops have turned on criminals in a fashion reminiscent of the war on ISIS!