By Professor Lamin Sidibeh
In the past months, there have been many reports of treacherous murders of different types and other crimes in the country. The murders include stabbing to death, hitting on the head to death and suffocating to death. What is your even more inconceivable in The Gambian culture is to kill a person, cut him or her into pieces and put the pieces in a bag and throw away somewhere?
As a senior citizen of this country, if someone had predicted to me occurrence of these sorts of crimes in The Gambia some 50years ago, I would have thought that the person had a mental problem. The rate of reported murders for instance, seems to be rising exponentially. This is not only disturbing but alarming and what is even more concerning is the involvement of young Gambians.
Since year 2020, there have been growing wave of serious crimes vis-a-vis murders, armed robbery, serious human trafficking and drug-related crimes in The Gambia. This implies that if stringent and effective measures are not taken, The Gambia will soon lose its status as one of the safe countries in Africa. According to the Global Peace Index, Mauritania, Ghana and Botswana are the safest countries in Africa. Other safe African countries include; include Sierra Leone, The Gambia (smiling coast) Senegal and Tanzania. All crimes that make a country unsafe are of great concern to public Health. In this tiny country of ours, crime prevention is most urgent sand the prevention of irrational and sociopathic killings are even more critical, especially among Gambian youths. Prevention is essential to decrease crime; increase security and it eases the work of the law Enforcement agents of the country. Crime prevention also prevents or reduces harm caused by crimes. In this country and to some extent globally, the causes of these crimes can be attributed to factors including failures in a child’s psychological development, of aggression and violence, peer pressure ( significant in teenagers), related drug and substance abuse and dependence ( which alters consciousness and sense of judgment),poor religious and spiritual outlook, family conditions, unemployment and severe trauma suffered as a child such as physical, emotional. Sexual, abusive, neglect, early loss of parents and inability to relate. Some psychological theories also see criminal behavior as a person’s lack of moral reasoning.
Children and youth who may suffer one or experience or more of the forgoing psychological problems are predisposed or vulnerable to criminal behavior later in life without early psychological or spiritual interventions. The Gambia needs effective guidance, counseling and rehabitative centers for its children and youths, not correction institutions with regard to crime prevention in The Gambia. Increasing security measures both at national community, local, family and personal levels are imperative. For example, providing more Para military and police patrols, making it more difficult for criminals to commit crime. Directed patrols and proactive arrests, especially at high Crime hot spots, informal methods of crime reduction within communities and effort to overcome the rich and poor divide.
At national level, there is need to improve security measures by allocating more funds for crime prevention initiatives and to improve social programmes. Focus on criminal justice alone is not enough and can lead to unintended consequences. There is need to strengthen the relationships between law enforcing agencies and community partners in crime mitigation.
At community and family levels, to know neighbors and interact with each other. To encourage a neighborhood watch, everyone to be vigilant. To know the local security staff. Push local politicians more towards security measures. Observe drug abuses and weapon safety within the community to share information on timely manners and take appropriate collective actions. Ensure proper security at homes. Educate children and youths of the community about crime and its prevention as a joint responsibility.
At individual level, to be alert, aware and to keep in mind what’s going on around you. Show confidence but scan the area around you. Screen where you go especially night time . Always be engaged in situation assessments and awareness.
I hope people who read this article will share its content and ideas with their families, neighbors, friends and other relatives especially in local languages.