Chief Minister Gives Stark Warning!
|By Leo Olivero
A few months back in what must have been my umpteenth article over the years regarding local crime, I said that “no society is free from crime and it is to be accepted that crime is an ever-present condition, just as sickness, disease, and death is a part of life, the presence of crime is apart of life and one that forms part of a modern 21 century society”.
Countless people are now openly registering their concerns about Gibraltar’s escalating crime. Last week the Chief Minister and the Royal Gibraltar Police voiced their own concern, this following a spate of violent criminal acts, culminating last week in a serious unprovoked attack on a man.
As far as the local perspective goes - regular Panorama readers will know that over recent year’s crime figures have been increasing in a very disturbing upward trend.
Latest figures published in the Police Authority’s Annual Police Report confirmed this highlighting a 13% increase in crime. This is a situation that which ever you look at it, paints a worrying picture for society, and although I hate to say it is unfortunately a picture that over the years I have predicted many times in Panorama.
Chief Minister Warns About Risks
The Chief Minister said last week that “Gibraltar was not an exclusively safe place (referring to crime).” Mr. Picardo himself a victim of crime in an incident last year before the elections, also gave his own warning or advise when he said “you have to take care where you go at night, you have to make sure you don’t put yourself in jeopardy” - sobering thoughts from Mr. Picardo, who after all knows at first hand how it feels to be involved in Gibraltar’s current crime trend.
The growing concern regarding crime is evident; apart from public concern, professionals themselves are publicly manifesting this fear, particularly the fact that more has to be done to combat this worrying trend.
Police Also Publicly Voice Concern
Also last week a senior RGP Detective stated that the “situation (crime) is of concern to the police.”
Referring to the increase in the incidents of violent crime the RGP spokesman said that “because of the consumption of large amounts of alcohol the public needs to be aware of these issues.”
Only a few months ago the outgoing RGP Commissioner Louis Wink called for new laws to combat serious crime, Mr. Wink calling for the introduction of legislation which he said would assist police with the “serious organised crime including drug trafficking.”
The Government for their part have installed CCTV cameras, which started in one of Gib’s problem areas at Castle Street; this is thought to be the first stage of a wider government project to install surveillance equipment targeting strategic areas of Gibraltar ‘aimed at deterring and detecting crime and unsocialable behaviour. ’
Government Give Police More Officers
The Chief Minister also mentioned last week that at the request of the new RGP Commissioner Eddie Yome there had been an increase in police officer complement, the extra officers would form part of the commissioner’s new neighbourhood policing initiative, which the CM was already producing results. HOWEVER IN MY OPINION…THIS IS NOT ENOUGH!
All the best efforts of the police will be a wasted, because as I have said many times the ‘Cause(s) of Crime are Not Tackled Head-On’ you do not really have to be an Albert Einstein of Crime to work out that the main cause of local crime is Drug/Substance Abuse which obviously includes Alcohol.
Failed Efforts by Previous Administration!
The failed and miserable efforts by the previous GSD Administration in doing anything effective to tackle the serious drug problem is well documented, particularly in the Panorama achieves, frankly I lost count the times I criticised the previous government on this one issue!
These failed efforts over the years to come to grips with the blatant and obvious rising drug problem had, still is having negative effects in other areas that today is seriously affecting the lives of many in society, like crime itself and the many health implications, child abuse, domestic violence, break up of marriages and homes. Another important point is how many millions of tax payers money is it costing Gibraltar to deal with all these negative socially related drug abuse issues.
One place where the increase in crime has been obvious is at the Courts! Particularly the constant flow of offenders (many repeat offenders) appearing before judges. The Courts have been swamped with criminal cases.
Quite a few harsh warnings have been given by presiding judges particularly regarding violent crime one that comes to mind was in the new year when in sentencing Supreme Court Judge Prescott warned that Gibraltar would not tolerate violent offences, the judge said “Offences of violence in Gibraltar appears to be on the increase and…have a serious impact upon the public’s confidence in the safety of our streets, it causes members of the public to fear for their safety.”
Nearly 3 years ago Panorama conducted its own study and established that over 75% of all crime is linked or directly related to substance abuse. These figures have never been disputed by any official body, indicating that we were either correct in our correlation regarding this serious matter was even higher.
An eight -year look at crime rates also show the number of cases of assault, actual bodily harm and other violent offenses has gradually increased to alarming levels. As I said earlier ‘this last year alone crime has rocketed again by another 13%’
Statistics much of the time speaks for itself; this point can be appreciated when checking and analysing official police statistics published in the police authority’s annual police report.
However I will say again ‘it is clear crime has one only main cause this is now no hidden secret, because this newspaper has published it many times ‘Drug and Alcohol Abuse or Both’ are those main venomous elements that contribute to current crime problem!
When a Chief Minister warns people that “you have to take care where you go at night and to make sure you put yourself at risk (or as he said in jeopardy)” then you know we have a problem!
Although I will it has always been annoying a point found totally irresponsible that drug and alcohol abuse and rising crime were for years ‘played down by the previous government and official agencies’ ! It is only NOW that many people are acknowledging the serious situation we’re in!
It’s Not Only the Police – The Root Cause Must be Tackled!
Preventing Crime is not the police’s baby…because this baby, belongs to everyone in society…this in my view has to be treated as such, the quicker we all realise this the sooner some headway can be made.
In this day and age a multi-social and official agency approach to drug/substance abuse and crime prevention must be the way forward.
However no matter how many police officers patrol the streets, they will not be able to put a stop or to get to the root of this serious social problem, particularly if they doing it alone. In this respect more people must actively get involved including the public. To do this a coordinated and comprehensive drug strategy must be put in place, because there is where the problem lies!
Gibraltar for years has been unable to see the wood for the trees allowing these serious social problems to fester unabated, affecting countless families but particularly the younger generation in a variety of negative and dangerous ways…
Here I have to say that I hope that sometime soon we shall see what plans the Government has to Tackle ‘Drug and Alcohol’ issues, particularly as a way of also stemming crime in Gibraltar.
Doing Little or Nothing Effective is Not an Option Today, Because we are Witnessing Why!