Categorized | National News

Gov’t Beefs Up Crime Fight

The government yesterday beefed up its fight against crime and in the process strengthened the judicial system.

The Christie administration managed to do so following the passing of three crime related bills, among them an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code Act.

Under the new law, accused people on trial will no longer be able to escape cross examination and in some cases, it will all unfold over live television.

It is a time honoured practice of giving an accused person the option of making an unsworn statement from the prisoner’s dock, freeing him/her from being cross examined.

The proposed legislation, which still has to be debated and passed in the Upper Chamber, would also open the door to using live television links in criminal proceedings.

“Clearly, this bill is intended to enable the Supreme Court to better utilise technology in the delivery of its service to the public, particularly in the area of criminal justice,” said State Minister of Legal Services, Damian Gomez.

“It is an important advancement, which this government is implementing and it is unfortunate that members opposite are not here to participate in this most in this most far reaching attempt to improve our criminal justice system and to enable authorities to more efficiently prosecute criminals.”

Contributing to the debate in the House of Assembly yesterday, National Security Minister, Dr. Bernard Nottage said the proposed amendment is all part of a strategy the government is adopting to deal with cases in a timely basis in hopes of possibly reducing the huge backload of cases that has exited for many years.

Dr. Nottage said even more importantly is the fact that it is aimed at reducing crime, so that more resources could be placed on its prevention.

“One of the things we cannot deny is that there continues to be a fear of violent crime in our country, although, when we look at it, we can see where most of it is coming from, the fact of the matter is unless and until we can reduce the fear of crime, people will continue to feel unsafe,” he said.

“In this regard, we have employed several people who are not police officers, but who are assisting us in developing some concepts that were included in our Charter For Governance, where we used persons, who were themselves are either victims or perpetrators of crime, to get into communities, engaging the young persons, determining what their problems are to see how we can help them.”

Part of the government’s strategy is to covert operations like Cease Fire and saturation patrols.

Dr. Nottage said another 30 to 50 police cars will be purchased to assist with such patrols.

According to the national security minister, the government is also looking for help from mentors.

“The government is looking for 50 Bahamians from hotspot communities, preferably males and who have – through their discipline and experiences – pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and can now be viewed by the public as successful, honest and law abiding,” he said.

The Criminal Procedures Code Amendment Act was one of several pieces of legislation passed in The House of Assembly on Monday.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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