General

Police unveils its 2018 National Crime Fighting Strategy

By Michelle Sutherland
Staff Reporter

The Belize Police Department, on Wednesday, launched its new ‘National Crime Fighting Strategy 2018-2020′, which includes a detailed and comprehensive action plan aimed at addressing, combating and reducing major crimes and gang violence across the country.
The new strategy was unveiled by Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie and Police Minister of State, Elodio Aragon at the Racoon Street police station in Belize City with the Department’s senior command in attendance.

Whylie explained that the new strategy seeks to reduce murders and gang violence throughout the country through the prevention, interdiction and successful prosecution of criminals and the restoration of public confidence in the Department.

Whylie further explained that the Departments’s new strategy will reduce gun-related crime and will aim to dismantle criminal gangs through new legislative reforms, strengthening of the Professional Standards Branch by stationing a PSB officer in every district and the instillation of video surveillance cameras in strategic areas within Belize City and San Pedro.

The Department intends to establish an Anti-Gang Task Force including top detectives who will be charged with investigating specific gang-related crimes. The Department will also investigate and prosecute suspected gang leaders and their financiers for financial and other crimes.
Police will additionally intensify spot checks and vehicular checkpoints, traffic control, and stop and search in particular sectors/zones, as well as increase road policing to curtail and disrupt the movement of criminals, and their activities.

The new strategy will also see the enactment of a new anti-gang legislation, which will create specific offences for gang members and their activities, including persons who support or harbor known gang members, gang members who are found with firearms or bullet-proof vests. It will also create a gang watch-list, prohibit the recruitment of persons to join gangs, and will provide for the issuing of injunctions by the court, restricting the movements of gang members.

In regards to firearms offences, amendments will be made to allow stiffer penalties for crimes committed with a firearm as well as increase license fees for various categories of firearms. All guns, upon being presented for renewal of licenses will also be test-fired and the results entered in the Integrate Ballistic Identification System (IBIS) which will be kept for future reference if deemed necessary.

The Department intends to introduce a Witness and Anonymity Act, which will allow for the non-disclosure of witnesses’ identities in criminal cases including murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, robbery, attempted robbery and rape.
Video identification and other digital and audio evidence will now be allowed in judicial proceedings, including closed-circuit television footage, video identification parades, and a witness album system, among others.

The new strategy has been in the making for some time and according to authorities, will be revised in two years.

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