The government is to introduce legislation to address the use of closed-circuit television as a crime fighting strategy, National Security Minister O A ‘Tommy’ Turnquest said.

“The Government has accepted its critical leadership role in initiatives to halt and reverse crime trends in the Bahamas,” he told the Rotary Club of South East Nassau, Wednesday.

Already a package of legislation to deal with “critical issues” such as plea bargaining, electronic monitoring, human trafficking, and sexual offences, is before the Parliament, he said.

Mr Turnquest was speaking on ‘Crime in the Bahamas: Beyond the statistics’.

He lamented society’s “changed as we became more tolerant of breaches of law, habitually disobeyed the law, including traffic and environmental laws, and moved away from the traditions and values on which our country was built.

“The urgent…solutions we now need to address our crime and criminality problems are today driving us in many directions – crime prevention and criminal justice; effective law enforcement; prison reform; social development, including support for our families, and our young people; and regional and international cooperation.”

The Government “continues to give strong support” to the Royal Bahamas Police Force to which $126,894,099 was allocated this fiscal year. This will permit the Police to continue to upgrade their technological, communications, and transportation assets, “to keep them on the cutting edge of effective law enforcement,” said Mr Turnquest.

The Police’s Neighbourhood Community Policing Initiative “is now well-established in our communities, systematically cultivating successful and effective police-community partnerships and making a difference in the quality of life of our people.”

The population at Her Majesty’s Prison has been increasing “at great cost to the public purse,” said Mr Turnquest. “It is fully appreciated that incarceration is a public safety measure, and that the safe custody of inmates is a priority for the prison.

“The Government is, however, strongly committed to policies and programmes aimed at ensuring that inmates who are released from prison have the requisite skills and training to get a job, and to stay out of prison.

“In short, we favour rehabilitation and correction. The Government is also exploring alternatives to incarceration, in clearly defined circumstances.”

The Government continues the phased acquisition of assets for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, so that it may effectively implement its mandate to counter international crime, Mr Turnquest told Rotarians.

Just recently, the Defence Force received two 48-foot vessels purchased by Government, and four 43-foot Interceptor Patrol Craft donated by the United States Government under Operation Enduring Friendship.

At the regional and international levels, the Government is participating in initiatives to strengthen collective mechanisms for addressing regional, hemispheric and international security concerns, Mr Turnquest said.

Over a two-month period, the Bahamas has hosted important law enforcement meetings of the Caribbean Community and the Organization of American States.

“Our initiatives are yielding positive results,” said Mr Turnquest. “The Royal Bahamas Police Force has an impressive apprehension and arrest rate. The level of trust between Police and Community is growing. The Force is receiving more intelligence on illegal firearms, and consequently, more of these weapons are being recovered.”

Community-based crime fighting initiatives, including Consultative Committees and Neighbourhood Crime Watch Groups, are growing, he said.

“They are making determined efforts to keep their communities vibrant and safe, so that all may walk without fear of crime,” said Mr Turnquest.

“Take charge of your personal safety. To the extent that you are able, do not put yourself or others in harm’s way.

“Take charge of the security of your property. Lock up and secure your home or business. Take measures that would enhance the security of your premises.

“I urge all to continue to co-operate with the Royal Bahamas Police Force in reporting crimes, particularly serious crime, and to provide information on illegal guns or drugs. The information and person who gives it will be kept confidential.

“Visit and support family members who ran afoul of the law and are incarcerated in prison, particularly as they near their release date. Take a stake in keeping that family member out of prison.”