Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 13, 2017 (SKNIS): Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, has stressed that his government has essentially ‘put its money where its mouth is’ as it continues to address crime and enhance public safety.
While presenting in the National Assembly on Tuesday (June 13), Dr. Harris reminded the nation that six months ago, the Ministry of National Security, which he leads, received the a budgetary allocation of $72 million, the largest in the history of the federation.
“It is an investment which must bring a peace dividend in the future,” said the prime minister, before listing a series of projects and programmes undertaken over the last two years. These include increased training for law enforcement personnel, the acquisition of new investigative and forensic tools, expansion of the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) programme, and increasing transport for the security forces such as a prisoner transport for Her Majesty’s Prison, and several trucks valued at more than $800,000 for the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force.
In reference to the administration of justice, Dr. Harris pointed to the opening of a second High Court in March 2017 as a key component in efforts to reduce crime.
So at this time, our judicial system in St. Kitts and Nevis is being serviced by a record three High Court judges – two in Basseterre (St. Kitts’ capital) and one in Charlestown (in Nevis),” he stated. “We were prepared to pay for the services of a second judge … in the context of our lived reality. We therefore brought an end to the on and off of the assizes system to ensure that criminal trials in our High Court can proceed all year long so that the backlog of cases, which were there, be dealt with and then disposed.”
Those convicted of offences will have access to a new prison and reforms facility offering improved conditions and an enhanced rehabilitative programme. Work has begun on the new correctional facility at Estridge and is being undertaken at a cost of more than $2 million that was budgeted for in 2016.
The minister of national security added that all vessels operated by the St. Kitts-Nevis Coast Guard are also being utilized to protect the borders; stiffer regulations with respect to gun crimes will be enacted; and new legislation will be passed to expand the scope that an accused person can be denied bail.
“We are doing what we need to do to preserve public peace and safety, and while the results have not been immediately available for all of these investments, we understand that we need to persevere in doing the right thing,” said Dr. Harris. “The changes that are required, some of them attitudinal in nature will take time but we are moving and trending in the right direction and we will not waiver from doing it.”