Defunded unchecked broken systems, breakdowns in the traditional nuclear family, rising single-parent homes of unsupervised children, lack of exposure to formal education, ‘babies raising babies', illegal drugs and ‘stateless children’ are only some of the society ills listed by Hon. Jameka Willims MHA - Government's Appointed Member, to be the cause of rising serious crimes in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
In a statement, Hon. Williams said that it is widely known that most of the gun crimes are because of gang violence, bemoaning the fact that persons who had not connection to violence were being caught up in it, some paying with their lives, leaving members of the community to whether, “am I next?"
“While I accept that some level of crime exists in every society, I refuse to accept that these recent acts of atrocious crime are a part of our culture, and dare I say, apart of what we are used to,” Hon. Williams insisted.
“The question everyone must be asking themselves right now is, ‘how did we get here?’” Hon. Williams noted.
“Well, this did not happen overnight. This happened as a result of our broken systems that have been left unchecked and underfunded for decades. In our society, there are obvious breakdowns in the traditional establishment, and in the respect for the continuity of the nuclear family.
“There are too many single-parent homes, where children are left unsupervised by an adult, or left to raise themselves, and, or other siblings. Too many of our homes lack structure, and have no exposure to school, and/or youth programs.
“It has become socially accepted for a young girl to become pregnant, and to raise her child/children in these single parent homes, hence the phrase "Babies raising Babies'.
“There is also the resurgence of the illicit drug trade, and the frequent illegal sloop arriving, transporting illegal immigrants, drugs, guns, and ammunition to our shores.
“Additionally, there is a festering issue in our country that all of us must be engaged with to remedy the situation, once and for all; that is, the social marginalization of what we describe as ‘Stateless Children’ and the compounding effect when they become young adults,” Hon. Williams surmised.
She added: “During the press conference on Monday, September 5, 2022, the Governor HE Nigel Daiken, who is responsible for national security, made announcements on a few immediate actions to address the current spree of gun related crimes in the Five Cays area. Those actions where:
· The Tactical Unit support, who will be making arrest against a list of individuals that are believed to be responsible for the mayhem:
· More visibility of the Police Force;
· Helicopter support that is in route to the TCI from the Caymen Islands, with night-time surveillance capability;
· The procurement of a helicopter for the TCI from the United Kingdom;
· The purchase of three marine vessels; and
· Stronger legislation to modernize the Police Force (‘best practice in the Caribbean’).
Hon. Williams stated that while those announced measures are commendable, more can be done, which include, the installation of Biometric Fingerprinting at all ports in the TCI.
“This feature will collect fingerprint of travelers in order to identify them effectively during entry and exit of our country. This will detect fraudulent documents, visa overstays, and, more importantly, for the detection of crime,” she suggested.
She added: “The introduction of Divisional Police Stations throughout the various constituencies here on this island of Providenciales specifically. Blue Hills, and Wheeland can share a station, but one should be present in Five Cays, and in the Kew Town/Cheshire Hall area. These stations should be fully operational and have a consistent presence of the police in those areas, visiting schools, and engaging the communities. This will also cut out down the response time when the police are called for help.
“There should also be the implementation of a national disciplinary development program housed in either North or Middle Caicos (where there is less distraction) whose main focus would be to instil discipline, respect of self, and others, and Country.
“This program should be 6 months to a year mandatory stint, post high-school graduation for all young men before they are released into adult society. This model has worked well for countries like Singapore, and others, which have some of the lowest crime rates in the world.”
The Government Appointed Member stated currently, there seems to be some deficits in policing and investigative initiatives, where law enforcement is concerned, and what she believed to be an obvious lack of trust, and confidence between the public and the police force.
“The public is not comfortable reporting to authorities, crime as it happens, which is a critical part of helping to solve crime.
“The number of unsolved homicides is pass concerning. If the current Commissioner of Police was heading a private entity with the same poor results, and lack-luster approach, he would have been terminated a long time ago.
“Why is it then that the Governor's office - office under which national security falls - which should be setting the tone and model under which this country operates, setting such low performance standards and metrics?
“The Police Commissioner should have tendered his resignation out of honor and respect for the people of this country who clearly thinks he has failed in his responsibilities.
As Turks and Caicos Islanders, we cannot sit ideally by, and watch as our Country is being looted of its peace, morality, and cultural dissonance. It is time for solutions, not tomorrow, not at our next meeting, today! And for the sake of our people, and our children the time is now!”