Warning that he does not want The Bahamas to lose a generation of men to violence, Prime Minister Philip Davis yesterday committed to exploring possible legislative options to save young men and boys caught in crime.
The prime minister also called on MPs to share any advice or suggestions with the government to combat the issue.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity to talk to people from all walks of life,” Davis said in a communication to Parliament.
“It is impossible not to be struck by the tragedies involving so many of our boys and young men. The crime statistics portray a stark picture of violence, gang-related activity and general criminality, which has become the fate of many hundreds.
“Low attainment levels by boys and young men at all stages of education is a serious cause for concern.
“In families and communities, I hear the stories and I see the pain caused by a range of social, psychological, and economic issues. In conversation with some of my fellow leaders in the region, they also have detected similar worrying signs in their countries.
“Deputy Speaker, I raise the point here to say that this is a matter around which the government will explore a number of policy options, which may or may not require legislative action to implement.
“I also raise the point to invite honorable members to consider issues specific to boys and young men in their constituencies, and to share any findings of note with the government, that we might come to solutions which are best for the whole country.
“We are in danger of losing a generation, and it is incumbent upon us all to ensure that that does not happen.”
The Bahamas is experiencing a rise in crime so far in 2022.
There have been 99 murders so far, and more than half of those victims were on bail, police said.
Murders for 2022 are up compared to the same period last year.
If murders continue unabated, 2022 is on track to surpass the 119 murders recorded in 2021.
The bloodiest year on record was 2015 when 146 murders were recorded.
Davis said his administration is implementing a broad range of policies to increase safety and security.
“We have expanded the reach of Urban Renewal,” he said.
“We have dramatically increased recruitment into the [Royal Bahamas] Defence Force, police force, and Department of Immigration.
“Six million dollars has been allocated for new defense force vessels, to better protect our borders.
“A new coastal radar was commissioned at the Coral Harbour base.
“The Marco’s Alert system was launched to activate an urgent bulletin in child abduction cases, and get information to the public sooner.
“Use of the Spot Shotter technology was expanded across New Providence and into Grand Bahama to tackle gun-related crimes.”
He said, “We also expanded the use of body cameras and dash cameras by police officers, to support them in providing greater accountability and more accurate monitoring of officer-citizen interactions.
“In Grand Bahama, we acquired a fire truck and we are implementing new training opportunities for the service.
“Saturation patrols are a priority in areas where they’re needed most.
“We understand that poor lighting impacts crime and therefore are launching an extensive streetlights project to ensure our communities are better lit.”
On Tuesday, Shadow Minister of National Security Shanendon Cartwright accused the Davis administration of failing to take serious action as murders climb.
“As we approach the regretful milestone of 100 murders in our country in a single year, we are deeply concerned about the bloodbath occurring on the streets of the capital, while there seems to be no coordinated strategy by this administration to stem it,” he said.
“The harsh reality is while this government is somewhere trying to figure out what to do, the streets throughout the country seem to be drenched in the blood of more and more victims of violent crimes.
“Just about every day, and sometimes within hours, Bahamians are being alerted on social media of another murder, robbery or sexual assault taking place in one of our communities.”