RBPF Commissioner Darwin Dottin’s (edited) remarks for the 136th Passing-Out Parade held at the Regional Police Training College

  • {Ed’s. Note Since we do not have a copy of Dr Chelston Brathwaite’s address, it made no sense to carry the Commissioner’s Intro for Dr Brathwaite, also removed are the commencing protocol salutations and conclusive greetings}

In my brief remarks I wish to raise recently two contemporary issues in law enforcement at this time. They were both raised at the 7th UK/Caribbean Forum and at a meeting of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) last year in a discussion on trans-national organised crime.

Human Trafficking

First, the matter of human trafficking; the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that 2.4. million people across the globe are victims of human trafficking at any one time. Further, that 60% of them are being exploited as human slaves. Others are trafficked to perform forced labour in homes and sweat shops. Two out of every three victims are females.

By one estimate, criminals earn a mind boggling $32 billion dollars per year from running trafficking networks. Actually with regard to profitability, human trafficking is exceeded only by the illegal trade.

It is therefore easy to concur with Michelle Bachelet, a United Nations official in her assessment that it is difficult to think of a crime more hideous and shocking than human trafficking. It is very humiliating and degrading.

In recognition of the gravity of the problem, there is clearly a need for a coordinated response on all fronts – local, regional and international; from state agencies, NGOs and international organisations.

Some practitioners are critical of the current response citing a paucity of finance and the lack of political will. According to one commentator, there is no human rights subject on which governments have said so much and done so little. Some of the most severe criticisms however are directed towards deficient laws and inept law enforcement.

{FILE IMAGE – CITY} There has been a call to consider measures that would change the attitude of male dominated police departments which place this type of crime at the lowest level of their law enforcement priorities.

Our Caribbean region is increasingly coming under the microscope. The International Organisation for Migration has been very active in this regard. Here in Barbados, the Royal Barbados Police Force brought one criminal prosecution against a person who was clearly involved in the trafficking of females for sexual exploitation.

There is however a growing body of intelligence that suggests our level of prosecution is not indicative of the nature of the problem. There is intelligence to suggest increasing instances of sexual exploitation and debt bondage.

How have Police responded?

First of all, Barbados is a signatory to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the protocols to that convention; particularly, the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons especially women and children. The passage of the Transnational Organised Crime (Prevention and Control) Act came into force in February, 2011. It criminalises the trafficking and smuggling of persons and provides severe penalties for breaches.

Being signatory to the Convention and the passage of legislation without more will be ineffective. Enforcement is vital. In the Royal Barbados Police Force I have assigned responsibility for human trafficking and sexual offences to an officer of the rank of Inspector. It is her responsibility to build a capable unit to investigate these crimes.

In addition to investigative skills it is also a requirement that our officers treat victims with due respect and sensitivity. I am therefore asking Commandant Louis and his staff here at the Police Training Centre to arrange for seminars and short courses to sensitise members of the Force to these issues. Further, to seek out training opportunities to improve the technical skills of investigators assigned to such cases.

The Royal Barbados Police Force does not wish to be identified as a police agency which regards crimes involving human trafficking as low priority.

Issue of Firearm Smuggling

The issue of firearm smuggling and use in crime is also a serious law enforcement problem. The majority of homicides and other violent crimes in the Caribbean are linked to the use of firearms. Firearm crimes do cause significant fear and anxiety in our societies.

In our country the experience this year is that 2% of reported crime involves the use of firearms. I have no desire to make comparisons with the experience of our neighbours.

I wish to however assure Barbadians that we continue to work diligently to address this form of crime. Our Anti-Gun Unit deserves our commendation for their work. During the last year it became apparent that there were serious weaknesses in our licensing of firearms for private use. Corrective action has since been taken to strengthen our oversight and administrative process to prevent infelicities. Criminal cases have been brought against persons for breaches of the Firearms legislation.

I can also announce that we are embarking on initiatives to mark all legally held firearms in the country. This will assist us in tracing firearms use in the commission of crimes. We have begun to mark those held by the security forces. With respect to privately held firearms, this may require appropriate legislation.

The Royal Barbados Police Force has also acquired additional technical capacity to assist with the investigation of firearm crimes. In this regard, I offer thanks to the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Government of Canada for their generous support.

Matters of crime and security continue to feature prominently in national and international discourse as well as in the academic community.

A Caribbean Minister of Government was recently quoted as saying that apart from the economy, crime and security was the most compelling problem.

In this context, I am requesting the academic staff here at the Police Training Centre to provide opportunities for mid ranking and senior officers to discuss the strategic and contemporary issues in law enforcement.

As an example I have recently read the Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy prepared by an impressive list of policy makers, academics, entrepreneurs and international public servants. The report assesses current strategies that are being used to tackle the trafficking of illegal drugs and offers recommendations for improvement. It is provocative and makes for compelling reading.

The seminars I am requesting the Police Training Centre to host would provide opportunities for discussion and reflection on such matters with the aim of achieving more enlightened decision making.

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