By Sharon Austin
ST. MICHAEL, Barbados (Monday April 3, 2023) — The Barbados government remains committed to resourcing the Barbados Police Service (BPS) to enable policemen to better protect citizens, proclaimed Attorney General, Dale Marshall, adding that the Service commands the largest budget of all departments, under the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs.
He made the comments recently, at the opening of The BPS’ Annual Grand Conference 2023, at the Police Band Headquarters, District ‘A’ Complex, Station Hill, St. Michael. The theme of the conference was Innovative Policing: Maintaining Legitimacy, Enhancing Efficiency and Enabling Effectiveness as a Service Delivery.
In highlighting the money spent on the BPS over the years, Marshall continued: “In the financial year 2019 to 2020, the budget for the Police Service was 107-plus million dollars. In 2020-2021, it was $106 million; in 2021-2022 it rose to 114-plus million dollars. The amount of money that the government is allocating to the Police Service for the upcoming financial year…2023 to 2024 is $131,284,487….
“This is a substantial increase, and it is testimony to the commitment that the government has, to resourcing the Police Service to enable you all to better secure the safety and security of Barbadians. You will recall that the Prime Minister and I have continued to pledge, faithfully, the government’s support for this service, and this increase in resources demonstrates that.”
The Attorney General indicated that discussions had started with the governments of the United Kingdom and Canada to bring trainers here, to deliver a range of courses.
He pointed out that the renewed training effort would be complemented by a range of technical programs to improve police capacity to use forensics and scientific techniques, as well as improve data gathering techniques, among others.
Marshall noted that the issue of recruiting members for the Police Service remains a high priority, and efforts would be redoubled and approaches adopted to attract young people.
He acknowledged that there were improvements in recent times and stated that some recruits were currently receiving their initial training.
The Attorney General said the recruitment drive must be continuous, as the hope is to reach the full complement of 1,500 police officers in 18 months.
“We’re looking at the way, in which we can improve, also the remuneration of officers and the terms and conditions within the constraints of our budget challenges,” Marshall added.
During the wide-ranging address, the Attorney General stated that the overall recorded crimes for 2022 stood at 5,803, pointing out that it represented an eight percent increase over the 2021 figure, which was 5,392.
He said the homicide rate in Barbados moved from 11 per 100,000 in 2021 to 15 per 100,000 in 2022, and indicated the situation was replicated in other Caribbean islands.
“Now I don’t say this to say that we are not as bad as someplace else, or we are better than someplace else. But, if everybody has the same phenomena occurring at the same time, then we would be foolish to think that our efforts and attention have to be purely local….We have a regional problem, and we have to come together to figure out how to tackle it…
“In April of this year, the CARICOM leaders will be hosting a special symposium on crime and violence. It is entitled “Violence as a Public Health Issue”, because we recognise that we have this challenge in common,” Marshall stated.
Last year, 142 unlicensed firearms were recovered, and the Attorney General applauded the members of the Service for their hard work.