Senator Harold Lovell said Antigua and Barbuda cannot allow the recent surge in gun-related crimes to fester.
Speaking on Observer Radio this morning, the United Progressive Party (UPP) leader said tackling crime requires a change of mindset in order to reduce tension and increase cooperation among the citizenry and police.
Lovell said this problem should not be politicised and added it is a community issue.
“Gun crime is like scourge and it is something that we must be aware of, something that we must get on top of and something that we must fight as a nation in a non-partisan way. This cannot be dealt with in a political way,” Lovell told a listening radio audience.
The senator spoke of his experiences in the 70s while living in Jamaica when that country was experiencing a rise in gun crimes, which it has not been able to get on top of to date.
Lovell said crime is not an easy problem to solve and the public’s lack of trust of the police only makes the issue worse.
He noted that the solution for solving any crime is good intelligence and admonished law enforcement officials to work more closely with members of the public.
“ We feel that crime, and especially gun crime, must be seen not only as a police matter, this is a community matter, crime is a community issue and it, therefore, means that-yes- the police must be central to any crime fighting strategy [but] without the community we can do nothing. That’s because intelligence, good underground intelligence is what we have to focus on.
“We need to know who is bringing in the guns, who is selling the guns and the people who are using the guns. Every gunman has a sister, brother, cousin, neighbour, friend, somebody, somebody knows something. But in order to get the necessary intelligence, it means that the bond of trust between the police and the community must be worked on and it must be strengthened, added Lovell.
While he is in agreement that there should be tougher laws and penalties for gun crimes, he said this would not matter if the perpetrators are not caught.