The Government’s cooperative and collaborative approach to national security yielded “significant results” during the 2007/2008 Budget year, Minister of National Security and Immigration the Hon. O.A.T. “Tommy” Turnquest told House of Assembly Members, Thursday, June 12, 2008.
Mr. Turnquest said the Government of The Bahamas is working assiduously to combat crime and criminality throughout The Bahamas in a “determined effort” to halt and reverse some of the current crime trends.
Delivering his contribution to the 2008-2009 Budget Debate, Minister Turnquest said transnational crimes, such as the illicit trafficking in drugs and firearms, illegal immigration and the illegal smuggling of migrants, are on the list of “priority” national security issues facing The Bahamas.
He said the “serious situation” of crime and criminality in The Bahamas, engendered in part, by transnational crime, is the over-riding concern of the Government and the people of The Bahamas alike.
Mr. Turnquest said that while the country remains in a “spiral” of crime and criminality, the statistics for January 1 through June 10, 2008 are “instructive.” The National Security Minister said that while the number of housebreak-ins (1,318 as compared to 1,134 in 2007); shop break-ins (682 as compared to 648 in 2007), stolen vehicles 522 in 2008 as compared to 433 in 2007) and rapes (60 in 2008 as compared to 55 in 2007) rose, there were decreases in the murder rate, the cases of manslaughter and armed robberies.
He said that up to June 10, 2008, 32 murders had been committed in The Bahamas, compared to 35 for the same timeframe in 2007. Drug trafficking, arguments, revenge killings and domestic violence continued to impact the murder rate while illegal guns continued to be the weapon of choice.
Mr. Turnquest said that no cases of manslaughter were reported for the year 2008 as compared to 3 for 2007. He said armed robberies also decreased from 365 to 344 for the same time period of 2007.
“It would be unhelpful at this stage to speculate from these figures what our crime statistics would be by the end of 2008,” Mr. Turnquest said. “Let me assure the Bahamian public, however, that the Government is working assiduously to combat crime and criminality in our communities and in our country in a determined effort to halt and reverse disturbing crime trends.”
Mr. Turnquest told House Members that to combat crime and criminality in The Bahamas, the Government, in general, and the Ministry of National Security in particular, have approached and will continue to approach the national security issues of The Bahamas “from the broadest perspective” in order to effectively bring resolution to this problem in The Bahamas. He said the Ministry’s portfolio reflects this approach.
The National Security Minister said law enforcement and security agencies such as the Royal Bahamas Police and Defence Forces, the Department of Immigration and Her Majesty’s Prison, in addition to the Parliamentary Registration Department, have been incorporated into a single portfolio to accomplish such an objective.
“While each agency implements its own mandate, the oversight by a single ministry permits greater cohesion and cooperation among agencies and improves the response to, and management of, national security issues,” Mr. Turnquest said.
“The advantages of this approach are self-evident. For example, the Defence Force is working closely with the Department of Immigration in apprehending migrants at sea and in providing security for the Carmichael Road Detention Centre. With both the Commander, Defence Force, and the Director of Immigration interacting under the umbrella of the Ministry of National Security, decision-making in these cross-cutting matters is decidedly more organized and coherent,” Mr. Turnquest added.
Mr. Turnquest said other examples of continuing cooperation under the umbrella of the Ministry of National Security includes that between the Defence Force and the Police Force which has resulted in the apprehension of persons involved in trans-national crime at sea.
He said cooperation between law enforcement agencies and the ministry’s National Anti-Drug Secretariat has led to a more accurate assessment of the “drug problem” in The Bahamas, thereby allowing for more effective policymaking and reporting to meet The Bahamas’ international obligations in drug control.
Mr. Turnquest said “this cooperative and collaborative approach to national security yielded significant results during the 2007/2008 budget year.
“If we measure the performance of the Ministry of National Security and its agencies over the course of the financial year 2007/2008 by any yardstick, we must conclude that it was a year in which we moved forward decisively to accomplish the people’s business,” Mr. Turnquest said.
“What we accomplished was not by good fortune; it was not by coincidence; it was not by chance. It was by deliberate policy and action taken by this Government,” Mr. Turnquest added.