This is an off-the-cuff thinking as I am not using data to back my theory. However, I’m confident my thoughts may not be far from the facts.
It is obvious that there is growing increase in crime and more worrying is the fact that they have become more violent. Thieves have become more daring, more professional and don’t mind killing to get away with money or valuables.
Since the launch of Operation Zero Crime by the GPF, scores of people have been arrested in crime and drug related activities. It is alarming that most of these are youths and even teenagers. Despite the police sweep and mass arrests, the crimes seem to go on abated. This begs the question WHY?
Well, my theory is as follows: there is high rate of unemployment; there is easy access to illicit drugs; the correctional (prisions) system is not functioning well; there are several other factors but I’ll skip those for now.
With a youthful population of almost 60%, most of these are unemployed and have little hope of getting employment. The urban area is teeming with an unemployed youthful population most of whom have no guardians or carers. These are left to survive on their own in a country where even the employed struggle to survive.
The problems of these youths are compounded by the easy access to prohibited drugs. The quest for survival can drive these youths into violent crime. When they go on a theft or a robbery spree, they could make thousands of dalasis from stolen cash or stolen items from a single operation. This makes it lucrative, despite the dangers.
Sometimes, these criminals get arrested and are prosecuted and sent to jail. However, the reality is that instead of a correctional facility, the prisons provide a place for the socialisation of criminals. Most of these come out of prison with greater knowledge in burglary and robbery. And since they go back to being unemployed, they go back to crime but in a more sophisticated way.
In order to stem the rise in crime, our education system needs to cater well for skills jobs. Employment opportunities must be made available. Furthermore, the proliferation of drugs and their use needs to be immediately curtailed.
Besides the current correctional system, I suggest a legislation that will introduce community services for offences that do not carry heavy sentences.
Former police PRO
Security must be President Barrow’s utmost priority
When former president Yahya Jammeh surprisingly conceded to Barrow before he made his infamous u-turn, Jammeh implored his predecessor to prioritise national security, insisting that without peace, Barrow would achieve nothing.
Four years down the line, Jammeh’s prophecy came true with a country once known as a bastion of peace and security entangled in unprecedented insecurity. In his traditional eid-ul-fitr message, the president acknowledged the issue, warning that the crimes taking place in the country pose a threat to peace and stability.
The gruesome killing of a 36-year-old lady in Mandinaring, the stabbing of a Senegalese vendor in Westfield and the robbing of a Lebanese businessman at gunpoint add to a catalogue of serious criminal activities that have raised eyebrows in the country, with no end in sight. Though the Gambian police and other security agencies have launched what they have dubbed as Operation Zero Crime in recent times, the crime rate has been on the rise and shows no sign of abating.
Apart from logistical challenges, the security apparatus lacks visible leadership. Despite recurrent security incidents, the Minister for the Interior, who is ultimately charged with internal security, has never held a press conference or issued a press release outlining his plans to deal with the dire security situation in the country. Though President Barrow expressed concern over the mounting insecurity in the country in his eid message to the nation, he fell short of spelling out concrete and tangible measures to combat crime and criminality in the country. Criminals should hear a tougher tone and stricter action.
The insecurity that has rocked the nation in recent times has serious socio-economic consequences for the country. The people of a country that has branded itself as the Smiling Coast of Africa are fearful of their lives and properties. An economy that heavily relies on tourism stands to suffer as tourists will get scared to be in a country where armed and professional criminal gangs could attack them. Insecurity will equally scare potential investors away. Foreign business people could be mulling over moving out to more peaceful countries.
This is a crucial year for The Gambia as the nation gears up for presidential elections; hence the government needs to ensure that security is maintained to conduct free, fair and transparent elections.
President Barrow and his top security brass must draw up a comprehensive plan to institute law and order. The alarming insecurity is a cause of great concern that needs to be handled with the highest sense of urgency and emergency before the situation spirals out of hand. Inaction in the face of this national security threat stands to scupper the president’s development agenda and plunge the country into the unknown!
Basidia M Drammeh