THE number of homicides so far this year has now equaled the total for last year, following the stabbing death on Tuesday night of 31-year-old Charles Justin on Jeremie Street. Last year, 31 homicides were recorded.
Police were able to arrest someone hours after the incident.
They also noted that 51 percent of homicides to date have been solved. However, the question of what plans they have to stop the runaway homicide train has now become a major concern.
Despite various responses from the hierarchy of the police force for the spike in killings this year, no strong message has come from the force’s chain of command to ease the fears of citizens or get people with intentions to commit such acts to think again.
However, Acting Superintendent of Police in charge of crime, Andre Collymore, said police are concerned about the crime and the frequency of homicides.
“We are trying our best to diminish crime in St. Lucia,” Collymore said.
That the situation may very well be one beyond police control,Collymore said targeted operations were being conducted by the police almost on a daily basis this week.
But homicides are just one of the many crimes that have spiked of late. Property theft, particularly vehicle theft, is now sweeping the country with at least one report being made weekly of a vehicle being stolen.
Recently, Francis Lalanne alias ‘Monkey’ from Balata, was charged with preparing for commission of a crime, where a quantity of vehicle keys and the remotes for vehicle alarm systems and key tags were discovered during a police operation.
Collymore said there has been an increase in auto theft in recent months, noting that the belief among police investigators is that the vehicles are stolen primarily for parts. He also believes that vehicle owners should take the initiative to safeguard their vehicles by arming them with theft- deterring measures.
However, he is of the view that it is just a matter of time before police put a halt to the frequency of auto thefts in the country.
When the police released in March crime figures for last year, Marsharma Sealy, Assistant Police Commissioner responsible for crime, called on the public to assist the police by shouldering some responsibility in safeguarding their property.
The call was made in light of figures revealing that the detection rate for offences against property for last year was 32 percent.
“This can be attributed to the fact that in many cases offences occur on occasions where there is no one at home and/or the suspect is unknown to the victim, making detection difficult,” Sealy said.
But it seems that the call by police to involve citizens to assist them in crime fighting and detection is not all-embracing as robberies, rapes and homicides continue.
Not even the government seems to have an answer or even a strategy to effectively tackle the crime situation.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet in February said he was concerned about the crime situation, noting that it was not just the homicides that were concerning, but also the break-ins.
“I don’t want anybody to believe that I am putting my head in a hole and thinking that it is not a problem. It is a major problem and we’ve got to combat it,” he was quoted as saying.
With the country just two weeks into the second half of the year, the hope is that St. Lucia does not record an all-time high homicide figure by year-end. It is also hoped that the relevant bodies like government, police and the judiciary, work together to send a strong message that people deal with their differences in a non-violent manner.