Published 20 October 2023
Buckie Got It, St Kitts Nevis News Source
ST. KITTS AND NEVIS COMMITS TO RESOLVING THE EPIDEMIC OF CRIME THROUGH A PUBLIC HEALTH APPROACH
Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 20, 2023 (SKNIS): The Attorney-General (AG) of St. Kitts and Nevis and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Honourable Garth Wilkin, presented a groundbreaking vision for addressing the pressing issue of crime and violence in the Caribbean region.
Speaking virtually at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Academy for Law 7th Biennial Conference in Barbados on October 20, 2023, the Honourable Garth Wilkin outlined a comprehensive plan to combat the cultural epidemic of criminality and violence through a public health approach. AG Wilkin’s address was built on themes established by the Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, at the CARICOM Regional Symposium on “Crime and Violence as a Public Health Issue” held in Trinidad in April 2023.
In his engaging address, Attorney-General Wilkin emphasized the importance of treating crime as a public health issue and recognized the shared problem of rampant criminality and violence, particularly among young men, and the challenges related to delays in prosecuting criminal offenses. He highlighted the urgent need to address these issues through scientific intervention strategies.
Drawing parallels between crime and public health, AG Wilkin explained that crime, like diseases, can be characterized by an epidemiological triad consisting of an agent, host, and environment. In this context, the agent represents a psychological rejection of societal norms and laws, the hosts are predominantly young men, and the environment is shaped by various structural, social, and commercial causes.
The Attorney-General proposed a paradigm shift in addressing crime by implementing public health interventions that focus on three primary fronts: interrupting transmission, preventing further spread, and changing societal behaviour norms. These strategies mirror approaches used to combat public health infections, emphasizing early intervention, targeted support, and community-based efforts.
“These interventions are part of our toolkit to mitigate HIV, COVID, and other public health issues. So why not apply them to our Crime and Violence epidemic? Interrupting the Transmission of Crime and violence requires recognizing that violence and criminal propensities are learned behaviors. Nefarious learning can be prevented, and what is learned can be unlearned,” said the Attorney-General. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution; it is a multi-sectoral and multi-factorial approach. Violence interrupters, individuals with street credibility, high emotional intelligence, and strong communication skills, can be trained and deployed.”
Minister Wilkin expressed St. Kitts and Nevis’ readiness to take robust and sustained action in addressing crime and violence as public health issues. He called for collective and decisive efforts to change the culture of violence in the Caribbean and create safer, healthier communities for all citizens and residents.
The Caribbean region, known for its history of addressing major public health issues through evidence-guided interventions, stands poised to confront the challenge of crime and violence using innovative and comprehensive strategies.