Perceptions of Crime

‘The Ministry of Justice, Home Affairs and National Security, in collaboration with the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, is currently conducting a nationwide Crime Perception Survey.

‘The survey will measure the fear of crime among the public.

‘The data gathered from the survey will help the government formulate solutions that will help stem crime, and ultimately provide the public with an increased sense of safety and security.’

These three opening paragraphs of the official press release announcing the national crime fear survey outline an objective, a hope to be fulfilled. But only if it was that easy…

The experts will tell us that they need to measure the public’s fear of crime.

Of course, whatever the yardstick, by the time it ends, the survey will tell the researchers just how afraid people are of becoming victims of crime, how they constantly fear for their loved ones and the safety and security of their homes.

It will find too exactly how people feel about not only criminal activity today, but also how the police, national security and justice entities are handling crime.

The research will find all the information needed. What will matter, however, is not only what’s done with it, but what it yields in the end.

This will not be the first survey of its kind. Nor will it be the last.

But while its results can (and hopefully not) end-up being assessed and eventually mothballed, there’s also the scope for its findings to inform national crime-fighting strategy and tactics in positive ways.

Review processes must always change with time. Where previous methods have been tried and failed, new ones must replace them.

Every Police Force would like to be or to feel it is in control of the crime situation, but that’s never the case as crime evolves (and changes) with society.

National security institutions must therefore always adapt to suit the time, as crime knows no end.

It’s a hard truth to swallow that without crime there would be no need for police, lawyers and courts, no need to enforce law and order.

That being the uncomfortable truth, however, it is for the institutions responsible for law, order and justice to always strive to ensure that they can take a bigger bite out of crime, ensure laws are obeyed and justice is meted out as needed.

No police force can accurately determine how crimes will evolve, far less predict the national homicide rate. But every society can take the fight to the criminals in more effective ways within the law.

Like with the results of the current national crime perception survey, it all depends on what we want to do, where we want to go – and how quickly.

All that said, though, we look forward to the findings helping create new approaches to the ongoing and unending fight against crime.

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