BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - CONCERNS were raised about the level of violence and homicides that occurred over the last decade on the streets of St. Kitts and Nevis of which data have shed light and sounded alarm at those concerns.
Data provided by the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force showed that the Federation has been averaging 21 murders annually over the last decade, ending as at December 2021.
Death by guns has accounted for 80 percent of those homicides since 2012, according to a presentation by Commissioner of Police Hilroy Brandy as he raised concerns about the impact of ridding the streets of illegal weapons and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
“As we all are aware, 80 percent for the last 10 years of our homicides was committed by a firearm,” Brandy noted.
In reminding of the six Police Officers who completed the Serial Number Restoration Training Course for 2022, the Commissioner noted that St. Kitts and Nevis does not have a gun licencing shop and, as a result, those weapons would have been brought into the Federation illegally and the officers’ task is key to bringing perpetrators and smugglers to justice.
At least six of the weapons taken off the streets were connected to individuals in the United States and England, raising alarms of how they got to the Federation without detection.
“...six of our own citizens were arrested and [put] in prison in the United States and England. That is why I say if we continue to work as a team, and we continue to share the information, and to share the technology, we all will be successful,” added Brandy.
The Commissioner, government officials and others have, in the past, sounded alarm bells on numerous occasions as to how guns have made their way to the streets of the Federation when there are no gun shops close by, and how they have been able to pass through the various ports of entry into St. Kitts and Nevis.
Calls were made on several occasions for the Police Force and the Customs and Excise Department to update their hiring policies to weed out any corrupt officers who might be within the ranks allowing for weapons to pass through undetected.
The Top Cop provided a breakdown of homicide statistics for the last decade: in 2012 there were 18 homicides, 21 in 2013, 24 in 2014, 29 in 2015, 32 in 2016, 23 in 2017, 23 in 2018, 12 in 2019, 10 in 2020, and 13 in 2021.
“I call these figures so we can relate to the amount of homicides that have been committed in our Federation for the last 10 years. And on an average we have been seeing 21 homicides,” he noted.
Taking a look at the average amount of firearms connected to those homicides, Commissioner Brandy noted that they were in double digits too. He revealed that an average of 17 out of 21 homicides committed annually were done by firearms.
Firearms do not only constitute a national security issue but also health; putting a strain on the country’s resources to treat victims of gun violence and the impact it is having on children in St. Kitts and Nevis.
But the police, over the last decade, had success in locating and removing illegal firearms from the streets of St. Kitts and Nevis. One measure used by the police was that of a recent amnesty that saw a number of people handing over their firearms.
And over the last decade, 249 firearms of various forms and calibres were handed over.
“In terms of recovery of firearms, in 2012 there were three, 18 in 2013, 23 in 2014, 23 in 2015, 34 in 2016, 43 in 2017, 37 in 2018, 44 in 2019, 17 in 2020 and seven in 2021,” Brandy disclosed.
That brought an average of 25 firearms being removed from the streets of St. Kitts and Nevis on an annual basis.
Commissioner Brandy noted that “25 firearm per year is 25 firearms too many”.