Categorized | National News

Nottage Outlines Bahamas’ ‘Blueprint’ for Crime Success

Creating safer communities is perhaps the most significant challenge facing most, if not all, regional countries, Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage told regional corrections officials.

“Over the past decades, throughout this region, there has been a significant increase in the levels of homicide and violent crimes such as armed robbery, attempted murder and rape,” Dr. Nottage said.

“When we analyze the information from the region, a number of common trends emerge. For instance, I note that the first common thread is that the majority of criminal offences in the region have been, or are being, committed by young males from lower, economically depressed communities. Low education attainment, lack of skills, unemployment, poor housing, dysfunctional families and poverty are among the many factors.

“Another common theme is that criminals and persons accused of serious crimes are at high risk to become victims of violent offences when they are released on bail.”

Addressing the Opening Session of the Ninth Annual Conference of the Association of Caribbean Heads of Corrections and Prisons Services (ACHCPS) at the British Colonial Hilton, June 6, Dr. Nottage said the government of The Bahamas has moved to address the aforementioned questions through the launch of its “Stronger Bahamas” initiative and a number of other initiatives.

The Stronger Bahamas Initiative, he said, is constructed on three key pillars: a safer Bahamas, a more modern Bahamas and a more prosperous Bahamas.

“The idea behind this strategy is the need to embark on a national programme and dialogue designed around various initiatives to make our country stronger,” Dr. Nottage said.

Dr. Nottage told the regional officials that the government has moved to address the issue of criminals and persons accused of serious crimes becoming victims of violent crimes themselves, by implementing its Swift Justice Initiative “within the context of our Constitution to restrict bail and the perception of criminals treating the Criminal Justice System as a revolving door.”

The National Security Minister said the Urban Renewal Programme seeks to address the social issues that may give rise to crime.

“Community policing, skills training and other social programmes have been introduced with some success, including marching bands, to create positive outlets for our young men to grow and develop,” he said.

Dr. Nottage said the introduction of the “Shock Treatment” Programme will also play a key role in the overall plan as it was designed specifically for male high school students between the ages of 10-17 who have been deemed “high risk.”

To ensure that the programme benefits the widest segment of persons, a television programme around the treatment has been developed and is aired on national television.

“All of these policies and strategies have been created and implemented to address young persons and offenders with a view to making our community safer by discouraging our young people from turning to a life of crime,” Dr. Nottage added.

Dr. Nottage said follow up, especially in the case of the Shock Treatment programme, will be essential to ensure that participants of the programme do not fall back into a life of at-risk or high-risk behaviour.

“These initiatives have seen significant promise,” he said, “however, much more work must be done. In implementing our reform programme, it has become evident that deep-rooted problems cannot be fixed overnight.”

Dr. Nottage said policymakers have a role to play in improving the social and economic standing for communities in determining who are committing the crimes and putting in place the right strategies to reverse crime figures and determining, by policy, ways of making communities safer.

“For policymakers, correctional facilities must be seen as more than facilities to house prisoners but rather as institutions for the reform of detained persons. In this regard we must analyze the data currently being held by our correctional and prison services. We have to examine and analyze the information that is available to us resulting from incarceration. This information gives a clear indication of crime trends (and) areas with challenges and successes.”

Dr. Nottage said corrections officers, on the other hand, must find ways to assist their Executive Branch in reducing recidivism among the correctional population.

“The issue goes further given your unique role in the Criminal Justice System. This role puts you and your facilities front and centre in efforts to make communities safer as you are responsible for the well-being and custody of detained persons. Given this reality, it is critical for us at the Executive Branch of government as you, as heads of correctional facilities, to find ways to reduce recidivism.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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