St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): A recommendation by St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet for a single Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) police force has been welcomed by Premier Vance Amory, a senior minister in the federal government in Baseterre.
Prime Minister Chastanet made the call at the OECS Authority meeting on Friday, while pointing out that the most Caribbean states are grappling with the problem of growing violent crime, and that much greater collaboration among OECS countries could help more effectively tackle the problem.
Premier Amory says there is recognition of the seriousness of the need for greater security within individual states and the region as a whole.
He made the observation at the press conference that followed the OECS Authority meeting.
“I believe that all of us recognize that the criminal element or the threat to security does not exist in a vacuum in any single nation, and we are of the view that there is inter-relationship between that threat. I think that with the existence and proliferation of the technology and the communication equipment, the use of cell phones and things like that, which has in fact enabled the communication among people intent on destroying or weakening the security of our region that this is something that has to be tackled through the cooperation and collaboration among the different states within the OECS.”
Citing examples relating to the illegal drug trade, the senior minister stressed the need for even more of a regional response.
“It is clear that we are faced with very serious regional threats to our security and it means that we have to have a regional response. What Prime Minister Chastanet has indicated is something which will no doubt be discussed in greater detail but barring that, even if there is not a single OECS police force, there has to be and there continues to be cooperation and collaboration between the security forces to give that regional protection against the criminal element which is a threat to our society. I think that is something which we know, that the threat to our security or the weakening of our security and safety is a threat to economic development and that clearly is a very big issue.”
Prime Minister Chastanet has been explaining why he thinks it would be a good move to have a single police force.
“Very simply right now, crime is an issue in all the islands and around the world and the fact is when you look at the cost of the judicial system and the cost of the police force as a relationship to our overall budget is really very high. We already see functional cooperation in our court houses so our court of appeal is on a regional basis already. Long ago it existed, we actually had the senior officers on a rotation basis. So the question is now we have common passports, we have common i.d. cards, why can’t we have a common data base and have a police force that’s a regional police force? So we can have one singular Commissioner and then we could have Corporal and Superintendents on a regional basis and rotate people and start integrating our police services.”
Premier Amory also shared the concerns of the investors in the region.
“We are getting the response from the investors that they are reluctant in some cases to expand investment to create the jobs which we need because so their concern about security. So this matter of regional concerns about security and safety is one which is real and one which has to be tackled with regional cooperation until we get to the next stage of forging a single unit whether it’s the police force or army.”