Search results for : crime prevention
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Television reality show star Judge Joe Brown visited with
several Bahamian officials while on a recent trip to Nassau.
Judge Brown's stops included a courtesy call on Prime
Minister Perry Christie and another on Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes. He
capped off his stay by addressing lawyers in the Office of the Attorney
General, offering advice on crime prevention and legal procedures...
National addresses by leaders are significant. They indicate that the topic being addressed is of national significance. They also indicate that the state is placing its full weight behind solving the problem under consideration.
No sensible person disagrees that we have a crime problem in The Bahamas. There have been four murder records in five years. The total murder count this year will be considerably larger than last year's record count. There are also problems with robberies and break-ins. Bahamians, especially residents of New Providence, do not feel safe in their paradise anymore.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham's address on crime Monday night was comprehensive. He brought forward new initiatives on the response and prevention sides of the issue of crime. We will first address the response side.
Ingraham announced an amnesty period for illegal weapons to be turned in, tougher penalties for people found guilty of gun crimes, and the addition of two courts at the Magistrates' Court level for gun and drug crimes. Magistrates will now have the power to sentence convicts to a maximum of seven years in prison rather than the five years currently allowed.
An additional criminal court at the Supreme Court level will be active by January, the prime minister said, along with a remand court at Her Majesty's Prison. This new court will reduce the frequency of the bussing of prisoners to the downtown area. This is welcomed and a relief. The change will reduce serious risk to innocent people.
Legislation is also foreshadowed to clarify the sentencing of murder convicts. Based on Ingraham's remarks, there will be three degrees of murder. One will be death eligible; one subject to a full life sentence in jail; and the other to sentences between 30 and 60 years.
We have gone on record with our opposition to the death penalty. Aside from that sentence, we agree that designations are needed for categories of murder.
These initiatives, and others already underway or just announced by the government, are useful. However, more could have been said about the state of the Office of the Attorney General.
While the prime minister said more investigation training is on the way for police, prosecutors at the Office of the Attorney General still present cases in the Supreme Court. It is true that police investigators have to up their performances. The state prosecution office needs to do the same.
We are not convinced that the Office of the Attorney General and its personnel and structure are up to the task of efficiently and successfully prosecuting matters in a timely fashion.
This office somehow escapes public scrutiny. Commissioners of police and ministers of national security should play their parts and lead. However, attorneys general and directors of public prosecution are equally involved in the justice system. Both the AG and his DPP must be more public and demonstrate to the country that they too are feeling pressure and are reforming their area of responsibility.
If our police put together good cases and our prosecutors bring them forward quickly, there would be no issue of bail.
We also think the government should clear the courts and its prosecution register of old cases that cannot be successfully or reasonably prosecuted. This is a difficult task, as it will require informing victims and their families that there will be no trial and punishment via the courts for vile offenses committed. Orders of no prosecution should be issued for all of these cases.
Years of failure to manage the criminal justice system properly have led us here. The Office of the Attorney General's time should not be wasted chasing past failure. We must work to ensure that the state prosecution service is feared.
If it is feared, many offenders would plead guilty to crimes committed when charged because they fear trial and a higher sentence.
"We are confronted by criminals - a criminal class of older seasoned offenders as well as a crop of bloody-minded juvenile offenders and thugs who seem to believe that they can evade the rule of law with little or no regard for life and other people's property," said Ingraham.
"For some, life is cheap; our common welfare is of no value. I share your anguish and anger whether you or a family member or neighbor has been a victim of crime. This vicious assault of crime affects us all. It destroys lives and damages livelihoods."
We are at a crossroad. If the level of crime and violence in our country rises further, we will become an unstable state and more of our citizens will consider living elsewhere.
We do not think the measures the government announced on the response side to crime will solve the problem, but we do think they will help counter the dangerous and violent trends that have emerged. We applaud the initiatives and hope that they will be effectively implemented.
Scores of children watched as an Augusta Street man was loaded into an ambulance and rushed to the hospital around 1:30 p.m. yesterday, seemingly unfazed by the violence they had just witnessed.
The man, who was wanted by police in connection with several serious crimes, was shot by an officer during a stand-off, police reported.
Director of the Crime Prevention Office Superintendent Stephen Dean told reporters at the scene that the man, known by area residents as “Bear”, pulled a gun on an officer who was attempting to question him.
Dean said police were on patrol in the area when they received information from concerned citizens about two wanted men.
As a result the police stoppe ...
Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner yesterday criticized the government's planned agenda for debate in the House of Assembly as "frivolous" and out of touch with the concerns of the public.
Butler-Turner said the opposition was informed that topics for today's debate include Majority Rule Day, environmental bills and a resolution for the National Insurance Board to acquire the Rodney E. Bain building.
"With all of the headline grabbing [issues that are] going on in this country today, we are going back in the House of Assembly tomorrow morning for the first time in 2014 and they're going to be talking basically about something that we already debated [and passed], which is Majority Rule Day," the Long Island MP said.
Majority Rule Day will be observed as a public holiday for the first time on January 10. Parliamentarians debated and passed legislation for the holiday last year.
"That is going to top the agenda. They're coming back to rehash that same story when we have these pressing matters that are on the minds of every Bahamian -- crime, unemployment and VAT (value added tax)," Butler-Turner said.
"This government lacks concern, leadership and they think that it's all a game so they are not doing the business of the people."
The former minister of state for social development also criticized Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez, who last week said the Office of the Attorney General was drafting new crime bills for Cabinet's consideration.
His statement came just weeks after MPs passed several crime bills in the House of Assembly.
Those bills included the Evidence Amendment Bill, the Penal Code Amendment Bill, the Firearms Amendment Bill, the Anti-terrorism Amendment Bill, the Justice Protection Amendment Bill and the Prevention of Bribery Bill.
The amendments to the Penal Code are specifically intended to target gang activity.
After the bills were debated in the Senate, the government decided to further review amendments to the Firearms Act and the Penal Code to bring more clarity to them.
The decision to review the bills came about after Opposition Senators Carl Bethel and John Bostwick raised technical issues regarding the wording of certain clauses and the need for more clarity.
Gomez said the Office of the Attorney General is drafting a "three strikes" law and stricter anti-gang legislation.
He said proposals are being drafted to amend the Bail Act so that "attempts to commit further offenses or cavorting with" others on bail would lead to bail being revoked.
Butler-Turner said the fact that the government is drafting new crime bills so soon after the recent bills were passed suggests a lack of competent leadership.
"They've got probably the highest ratio of attorneys sitting around that Cabinet table and they bring the most ill-crafted bills, poorly presented, poorly thought out, and then they want to bring those to debate," she said.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham last night called for a new era of national volunteerism and announced that the government will make $1 million available immediately to initiate social programs in urban areas in New Providence and Grand Bahama.
"There is no denying the role played by young males in the crime scourge of our nation," said Ingraham, during a national address on crime.
"These males are predominantly from the urban areas of the country, most particularly Nassau and to a lesser degree, Freeport. We cannot bury our heads in the sand about this reality."
Ingraham advised that the programs will be developed and executed in conjunction with social partners such as the church, civic groups and sporting groups.
He said the funds for these new programs are in addition to the resources that are already budgeted for various urban renewal and youth development programs.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Development will spearhead this effort together with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, the prime minister said.
He said the expectation is that the programs will be up and running by as early as December.
Ingraham stressed that even with its best efforts, the government alone will not be able to fully address the crime scourge.
"We need as many of you who care about our nation to enlist in this fight," Ingraham said.
He announced that the government will launch a National Volunteers Register on November 1.
"The register will enable you to sign up to be available to volunteer your time for mentoring our young men and women; assisting in community centers with afterschool programs; outreaches to urban neighborhoods to encourage parental and child involvement in school activities; to work with existing youth organizations in their programs, and a host of social activities that can positively impact upon our society," Ingraham said.
Volunteers will be able to register online or at various designated government offices.
"Our aim is to enlist hundreds if not thousands of volunteers," the prime minister said.
"This effort will also be spearheaded by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture together with the Ministry of Labour and Social Development."
Ingraham said one of the social dimensions to fighting crime is social intervention which can play an essential role in deterring crime, stopping first offenders from re-offending and rehabilitating some criminals.
"Accordingly, my government will continue to work with and strengthen partnerships with civil society generally. We will collaborate with churches, civic groups and the business community to fund and manage targeted social intervention programs to confront anti-social and criminal behavior among various groups," he said.
"In our shared fight against crime, there is an urgent need for more community service and mentoring and greater corporate citizenship and philanthropic efforts inclusive of helping to fund and sustain various youth and young adult programs as well as crime prevention and offender rehabilitation programs."
The government is targeting four principal areas: Community service programs in all public schools with an enhanced service-learning, ethics and character development component; community and youth development programs geared towards providing young people with positive and alternative life experiences and skills while discouraging anti-social behavior; and effective and creative alternative sentencing for juvenile offenders.
"Towards this end, the minister of education has been charged with implementing a new and more comprehensive community service-learning program for all government schools," Ingraham said.
"This is with a view to helping more young people develop a sense of belonging in our community and deeper sense of responsibility for its well-being while better respecting themselves and others."
NATIONAL ADDRESS ON CRIME AT A GLANCE
In his national address on crime last night, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said, "The crisis of culture and community manifested in an unprecedented level of criminality requires us to deal with essentials invisible to the eye like values, attitudes, social trust and mutual respect."
Ingraham also made a number of announcements regarding the government's new approach to addressing the high level of violent crime in the country.
o Customs to increase random searches at ports
o Stronger gun penalties
o Stronger drug penalties
o Two new gun courts
o 30-day period to turn in illegal firearms
o Expansion of CCTV program
o Police to get two mobile command centers
o Specialist consultants to train police
o Three years set as reasonable time to hold suspect
o Magistrates must put in writing reasons for granting bail
o Legislation for non-disclosure of witness identities in some cases
o Death penalty to be retained as punishment for certain murders
o Life to be defined as the remainder of a convict's natural life
o Additional judges
o $1 million for social intervention programs
o National Volunteers Register to be launched Nov. 1, 2011
o Establishment of Outward Bound Program for at-risk youth and first offenders
The record murder count with which we ended 2010 represents a complex of mostly quantifiable causes. But quantifying the means to combat violent crime is not easy. To wit, we should be sceptical of glib generalizations about the causes of and the means to address crime.
A booming economy does not necessarily translate into less crime. During one of the most severe economic downturns in its modern history various crimes have fallen dramatically across the United States, including in crime-ridden cities such as Newark, New Jersey.
Those who believe that the economic benefits associated with Baha Mar will necessarily result in a decline in violent crime will want to recall that even d ...
Members of Parliament are expected to begin debate today on a package of anti-crime bills that seek to impose heavier sentences on people convicted of serious crimes.
Proposed amendments to the Firearms Act would increase the range of sentencing for people found in possession of illegal firearms.
The bill also creates the new offense of possession of a prohibited high powered firearm that carries a 25 years to life sentence upon conviction.
"This is a very serious offense to be tried only before the Supreme Court carrying a stiff penalty similar to the range for manslaughter under the penal code of 25 years to life imprisonment," the bill reads.
"These weapons are extremely dangerous."
The bill describes a high powered firearm as "any rifle designed or chambered to discharge any rifle cartridge of .22 caliber or greater with a muzzle energy of 900 foot/pounds higher".
The bill seeks to amend the Firearms Act to include as offenses the illicit manufacture, trafficking and export of firearms pursuant to the United Nations Convention against transnational organized crime.
According to police, 347 illegal firearms and 5,914 rounds of ammunition were seized for the year.
Further amendments to the Firearms Act would allow all of the occupants of a private vehicle where an illegal firearm is found to "be statutorily liable to be in possession of a firearm, not simply the person in control of the vehicle, i.e. the driver".
The remaining five bills would amend the Prevention of Bribery Act; the Justice Protection Act; the Evidence Act; the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Penal Code.
The bills were tabled in the House of Assembly last month.
The last package of anti-crime bills was brought by the Ingraham administration in 2011.
The bills increased the sentencing for people convicted of gun crimes, sex crimes and drug crimes.
The newly launched Urban Renewal 2.0 program is paying "some serious, serious dividends" for the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Assistant Commissioner of Police Leon Bethel said Thursday.
"This is a refined approach to community policing and everyday we are witnessing the benefits of the program," Bethel said. "While some civilians may not be able to see those results as yet, we are seeing them on the ground as police officers.
"A lot of things are happening and while some people don't want to believe it, they will believe once we reveal the statistics."
Bethel, who is responsible for force operations, said police are combining Urban Renewal operations with other force operations to put a dent in crime and criminality, particularly violent crime.
"Every day we have ongoing operations from Urban Renewal working in combination with daily operations from some other sectors of the force, which have allowed those additional operations to go out and do some other things in order to settle down some people and bring them and/or others to justice," Bethel added.
Addressing members of the clergy attending the seminar, Bethel said collaboration [among] the church, the state (the Police Force and Urban Renewal representing the state in this instance), private sector and the community is critical to the war on crime and criminality.
He said the one-day seminar was the continuation of a collaboration [among] police, Urban Renewal and pastors operating in the Bain and Grants Town community.
Its aim was to increase collaboration and exchange of information between the religious community in the area and the project team.
It is anticipated that this will facilitate the development of a community action plan to prevent and reduce youth violence and crime within the community.
Topics addressed included Youth Violence in the Community, the Effects of the Drug Culture on Youth Violence; the Importance of Pastors and The Community As Gate Keepers and Violence Prevention, A Public Health Perspective, among others.
Guest speakers included the Most Reverend Drexel Gomez; Assistant Commissioner of Police Hulan Hanna; school psychologist, Dr. Novia Carter; pastor Barrington Brennen of Living Faith Family Church; Harris Smith, chief welfare officer, Her Majesty's Prisons and Inspector Chrislyn Skippings, public affairs and communications officer, Royal Bahamas Police Force.
"This partnership we are trying to enforce is not a new one [as] we have been meeting with the Bahamas Christian Council and bringing them up to date on information from the police perspective so that they can be aware of what is going on in the various communities," Bethel said. "Our objective is for the members of the clergy to then go back into the community armed with this information and try to touch some areas that we have pointed out to them, and some areas, they can assist the Police and the community in."
Leader of the Free National Movement (FNM) Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday he supports capital punishment.
Minnis said he has made that position known on many occasions. He repeated it while a guest on the Guardian Radio talk show Darold Miller Live.
"In the FNM we believe in prevention, dealing with issues that are there," Minnis said.
"I do believe in hanging, but at the same time one has to go through the legal process which makes it very, very difficult."
The death penalty has not been carried out in The Bahamas since David Mitchell was executed in 2000.
Last June, the Privy Council quashed the death sentence of murder convict Maxo Tido, who was sentenced more than five years ago for the 2002 murder of 16-year-old Donnell Conover. Her skull was crushed and her body burnt, according to the evidence presented in the case.
But the Privy Council, while recognizing that it was a dreadful and appalling murder, said it did not fall into the category of worst of the worst, and therefore the death penalty ought not apply.
Tido was the first person sentenced to death in The Bahamas since the Privy Council ruled in 2006 that the mandatory death sentence in The Bahamas was unconstitutional.
Amendments made to the Criminal Procedure Code late last year as a part of a package of anti-crime bills, set out circumstances under which the death penalty would be mandatory.
The death penalty would be mandatory for anyone convicted of killing a member of the following organizations: The Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Department of Customs, the Department of Immigration, the judiciary and the prison services system.
The death penalty would also be mandatory if a person is convicted of murdering someone in the commission of a robbery, rape, kidnapping or act of terrorism.
However, murder convicts still have the right to appeal to the Privy Council.
The package of bills was passed after the murder count skyrocketed last year, eventually reaching a record 127.
Minnis said while he supports hanging he believes in prevention.
"I am a strong proponent of communication and discussion with the churches and other organizations so that we can work together, strengthen families etc.," Minnis said.
"We know that conflict resolution is a problem so we need to deal with that."
The Bahamas hanged 50 men since 1929, according to records kept at Her Majesty's Prison. Five of them were hanged under the Ingraham administrations prior to 2002; 13 were hanged under the 25-year rule of the Pindling government; and the remainder were executed between 1929 and 1967.
Prime Minister Perry Christie in his last term renewed his commitment to the death penalty, although it was never carried out during his administration.
Then attorney general Alfred Sears had said that the pending Forrester and Bowe case, which led to the landmark 2006 ruling, had prevented the Christie administration from carrying out capital punishment.
That ruling meant that all the men who were under the sentence of death at the time had to be re-sentenced.
CRIMINALS are always looking for a quick opportunity to steal a vehicle. By taking the following precautions you can prevent your vehicle from being stolen.
Never leave your keys in your car, always lock your car, never leave your car running.
Never leave personal belongings visible (for example laptops, iPods, phones and other such items).
Park in well-lit areas; park in attended lots and leave only the ignition/door key with the attendant.
Completely close your windows when parking; turn wheels to the side in driveways and parking lots; disable your vehicle when leaving it.
Etch your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on all windows and engrave expensive accessories to prevent thieves from dis ...