The Government of The Bahamas is seeking to ensure that the country’s law enforcement and criminal justice systems both have the legal framework to effectively counter not only the existing crime situation within the country, but also new and emerging forms of crime, Minister of National Security, the Hon. Tommy Turnquest said Thursday.

Mr. Turnquest said a “dynamic legislative agenda” has brought matters such as electronic monitoring, plea-bargaining and human trafficking to the forefront to ensure that law enforcement entities and the criminal justice system are able to “appropriately address these issues.”

He said it is part of a comprehensive Anti-Crime Fighting Strategy that has been developed by the Ministry of National Security in conjunction with its law enforcement agencies. The Anti-Crime Fighting Strategy also includes programmes such as the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s Peer Leadership Programme for youth, in addition to Her Majesty’s Prison’s community-based initiatives such as Partners Against Crime (PAC) and Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE).

“This approach is of particular interest because crime prevention is also a critical component of the Government’s crime prevention and criminal justice strategy,” Mr. Turnquest said.

“To prevent crime, we must counter it on all fronts from law enforcement to legal, from economic and social, to moral and ethical, from old-fashion policing to policing using new technologies. Preventing crime is not something we do once and it is done; it is an ongoing process that goes hand-in-hand with criminal justice. It is the process by which we make it clear to those who commit crime that the odds of getting caught are too great for them to try,” Mr. Turnquest added.

Addressing the 2008 Bahamas Chamber of Commerce’s Crime Prevention Seminar, Mr. Turnquest said the issues The Bahamas is facing with regards to crime, criminality and violence is not unique to this country.

He said his recent participation at the Eleventh Meeting of Ministers of National security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) confirms this.
“The intelligence brief Ministers received in CONSLE detailed the expansive scope and enormity of the crime and criminality challenges facing virtually all CARICOM Countries,” Mr. Turnquest said.

“The core security threats to CARICOM Countries are basically the same. Prominent among these are violent crime, including murder, drugs and arms trafficking, migrant smuggling, transnational organized crime, money-laundering, identity theft, fraud and cyber crime.”

The National Security Minister said there is “good reason” why government, law enforcement and national security officials must focus on halting and reversing violent crime in The Bahamas as crimes such as these have “profound, negative consequences for our country at multiple levels.”

Mr. Turnquest said one way of doing this is through the development and implementation of the Government’s Anti-Crime Fighting Strategy. He said one part of that strategy calls for the continued acquisition of new, strategic technologies for the country’s security forces.

“State-of-the-art communications and forensic equipment, for example, is strengthening the hand of law enforcement in protecting our communities, including our business community and visitors to our country,” Mr. Turnquest said.

“We have taken a firm position on protecting our law enforcement officers in the conduct of their duties (as) all frontline officers are to be provided with bulletproof vests. At Her Majesty’s Prison, a new reform agenda is preparing inmates for reintegration into their communities upon release. Focused on rehabilitation, the reform agenda aims to provide inmates with the academic and technical skills they need to be gainfully employed after serving their sentences.

“The remarkable Royal Bahamas Police Force Cadet Corps Programme and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Cadet Corps are keeping young people focused on making their contribution to nation-building. These programmes are also providing a human resource pool from which many of the next generation of Police and Defence Force Officers are being drawn,” Mr. Turnquest added.

Minister Turnquest said other programmes such as the Police Force’s Peer Leadership Programme and Her Majesty’s Prison’s community-based initiatives such as Partners Against Crime (PAC) and Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), “give us hope that reinforcing the moral and ethical values of our young people, can dissuade them from entering a life of crime.”