Generally speaking, Saint Lucians are no different from other people. They suffer similar emotional pain at the passing of a loved one; a majority believes in a supreme being and a majority speaks not from proven scientific results. Instead, people tend to regurgitate thoughtlessly whatever is seen and heard on television, from the mouths of their favourite politician and icon. Untested information, misinformation and downright lies have now been rechristened as fake news, as if a change of name can ameliorate their perverse intent. Unfortunately, some people still blindly follow certain politicians, even as earlier promises of better days failed miserably.
The issue of crime demands a more analytical mindset. The propensity to cling to the familiar, even when it has proven dangerous to personal security, cannot be allowed to prevail. We now face the dilemma of wanting to solve crime without proper scientific study into its genesis and evolution. The dilemma reminds one of the saying ‘There’s none so blind as those who would not see’.
Some people believe that crime is rooted in social disorder stemming from poor parenting. Others say that the growing incidence of crime and the reasons for the spike in anti-social behaviour and lawlessness are due to increasing ungodliness and greed. Still there are others who believe that some people’s brains are differently wired at birth, making them more susceptible to deviant behaviour and criminal conduct. These are the so-called bad eggs of society that seem to defy proper analysis and understanding.
The irony of the situation is that those empowered to institute necessary measures, including research, seem reluctant or unable to do so. ‘And nothing happens’ remains a sad anthem of successive attempts to take a bite out of crime. What, dear reader, may be the reason for this lack of enthusiasm for research into the root causes of crime? Could it be fear that such a study would reveal more hidden truths than the society is able to handle? Or are we afraid to face our own guilt and hidden scars? How many citizens have suggested to successive governments that heavily tinted windows should be outlawed on the island’s roads? Why hide inside a black coffin-on-wheels on a public road, if one has nothing to fear?
The government should engage two or three experts in the field of sociology, criminal detection, psychology and law to initiate research into the root causes of crime. A study of the captive audience at Bordelais and perhaps the Boys’ Training Centre at Massade, Gros-Islet may be a good place to start. Questions aimed at revealing the reasons why some have run afoul of the law should include information on their parents and family, place of work and relations with the extended family. Their level of education, place of birth and the type of environment in which they live should also prove useful. Questions relating to parents’ social activities, games and their children’s participation in sports and the names of their sporting icons should also prove handy.
It is widely agreed that crime is committed by a minority of young people, mostly males. There are therefore two different populations of young people to be studied: those who have avoided criminal activity, steering a law-abiding path, and others who have fallen through the proverbial cracks in the society, should make interesting comparisons and reading. A careful study of the root causes of crime would prove useless, if such findings were not used to launch a social and development programme for persons most in need of support.
Without prejudice, the most important discovery may turn out to be the lack of parental love and caring in the lives of those who have fallen foul of the law. Could this lack be the overarching reason for anti-social conduct? Is this lack of love and care connected to the increasing greed and ungodly conduct one hears about?
Questions on crime ought to also focus on the society and its unwitting predisposition to lawlessness. Does the constant agitation and hateful language from political hacks and activists provide an environment which criminals use to their advantage? Do political parties provide an umbrella for criminals to hide and shelter? Does loose talk on radio and television by persons incapable of clear, logical thinking add to a negative crime-infested environment?
Other relevant questions might include: Does the migration of young persons from rural to urban communities result in increased crime? Does the propensity of politicians and their hacks to make reckless statements embolden those with a criminal bent? Does the erosion of family cohesion and Christian values aggravate criminal behaviour? Does the abuse of children in any form lead to anti-social conduct and crime?
In the final analysis a study of the root causes of crime ought to answer the question: What must be done to ameliorate and eventually stop its growth? A progressive and observant society must take action to curb crime before this is satisfactorily answered.
For this reason I applaud the new mayor of Castries for the bold steps he has taken with his councillors to combat crime in the city. Cleaning up the city is a necessary first step. More city constables are proving a success, combatting petty crimes. In this regard the government would be well advised to bite the bullet and report progress on the Grynberg and IMPACS matters.
Unless IMPACS and Grynberg are settled to the satisfaction of the citizens and the US State Department, confidence in the criminal justice system will be further eroded, at the same time making it more difficult to fight crime.
– – The author is a former minister of government who served both UWP and SLP administrations.