The Government of Saint Lucia is tackling the issue of crime by not just investing in justice and security but getting to the root of the problem and providing opportunities and support to youth at risk.
Minister for Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment, Honourable Lenard Montoute explained at Tuesday’s House Sitting that the pilot programme, Youth Empowerment for Life, is part of the Government’s overall strategy to tackle crime and set our youth on the path to success.
The funds for the programme will be secured from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) as explained by Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service Honourable Allen Chastanet when he moved a Motion for the Government to loan US$2,860,000.00 from CDB’s Special Funds Resources (SFR) and accept a grant for US$800,000.00 for the project.
Prime Minister Chastanet detailed that the Youth Empowerment for Life Project is focused on mitigating risk factors that trigger criminal and anti-social behaviours at the individual, family, community and societal levels, with special emphasis on young men and vulnerable groups especially children, at-risk youth and women.
This objective will be achieved through:
- Integrated Youth Court Diversion Programmes;
- Integrated Community-Based Transformation Programmes;
- Community Based Policing initiatives;
- Design options for the George V Park in the City of Castries;
- Implementation support.
The Prime Minister also explained the main components of the project which will include a Youth Court Diversion Programme which comprises two elements: Youth recidivism reduction and an Out of School Suspension Programme.
“Youth Recidivism Reduction will cater to young persons aged 12-19 and will include pre- and post-court diversion youth who have been recommended to the programme or receive non-custodial sentencing. It will also cater to high school drop-outs. This element will be implemented by the Probation and Parole services unit,” explained the Prime Minister.
The Out of School Suspension Programme will be implemented by the Department of Education and will engage meaningfully and focus on secondary school students who have been suspended for more than five days.
Other components of the programme include Community Based Policing and an Integrated Community-Based Transformation Programme run by the Department of Equity and includes community after school programs, community summer programs; workshops and training related to sports and development, creative and expressive arts and business mentoring and life coaching.
An exciting component of the project is the design and upgrade of George V Park which will be implemented by the Castries City Council. Parliamentary Representative for Castries, Honourable Sarah Flood-Beaubrun, told the House of Assembly yesterday that she was honoured that such a programme was being piloted in her constituency and she looked forward to success and to see it eventually being done across the island.
A unit to provide implementation support to this project will be established at the Department of Equity, Social Justice, Empowerment and Human Services.