Categorized | National News

Dames: ‘Electronic Monitoring Failed Crime Fight’

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames revealed that anti-crime initiatives, which includes CCTV and electronic monitoring has failed.

In his address to the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Dames said for years The Bahamas has been spending millions of dollars on anti-crime programs and the acquisition of modern crime fighting tools and equipment, but based on their most recent review, the results have shown that a less than adequate job of oversight and maintenance was done.

“This outcome can be attributed to poor execution, a lack of legislative or regulatory support and a poor oversight at the policy level,” Dames said.

He added that although many of these efforts were well intentioned, they were not having the intended impact on crime that had been anticipated.

He used the electronic monitoring program as his first example and said in places across the United States, Canada and Mexico that system is used to serve as an alternative to incarceration for first time nonviolent offenders.

“We’re probably one of the only countries that places ankle bracelets on persons charged with murder and other serious crimes and do not ensure that stricter guidelines are stipulated,” Dames said.

He added that the electronic monitoring bracelets did little to deter suspects either in engaging in criminal activity or becoming victims to crime themselves and police records indicate that since November last year, 13 persons have been murdered while being monitored and one suspect was charged with murder after being monitored.

“We pay millions of dollars annually to monitor suspects and latest figures show that 268 offenders are being electronically monitored for a number of offences including 70 for murders, 18 for attempted murders, 103 armed robberies and 59 for firearm offences,” Dames said.

He said one of the reasons that the programs failed is because the devices are placed on some of the most serious offenders and exclusionary zones and curfews were not always imposed as conditions, thus some of the most dangerous offenders were able to move about the city freely and unrestricted.

“It should not be that we should have persons granted bail and freely roaming our streets while armed, facing multiple murder charges. My ministry has been in active discussion with the Office of the Attorney General to explore avenues to ensure that persons charged with multiple similar offences committed overtime remain incarcerated to the time of their trail without bail,” Dames said.

He added that in April 2012, the government of the Bahamas invested $4.6 million in the establishment of a state-of-the-art CCTV monitoring center and installed 243 CCTV cameras mainly in the downtown area and a few crime hot spot areas in New Providence.

He said the system was not being properly maintained and could not be expanded due to insufficient bandwidth which is essential for producing quality images, which impacted nearly 119 of the 243 CCTV cameras.

Dames said the government has already taken steps to ensure that every camera is functioning and also there is communication with BTC to correct the bandwidth issue to the right level and upgrade the servers and hard drives.

“A properly functioning electronic monitoring program in conjunction with the CCTV project and supported by mobile patrols will all enhance our ability to aggressively address crime issues that have occur on our streets and neighborhoods by targeting prolific offenders and disrupting their activities,” Dames said.

 

Written by Jones Bahamas

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