St. John’s Antigua- Some residents of English Harbour say they are now living in fear after the quiet of their community was shattered by a recent wave of crime in that area.
“I think it’s true to say that we have many of our residents literally living in fear,” resident Tim Eynon said.
Police have confirmed that since the start of the year, 54 crimes have been reported for English Harbour and surrounding communities. The crimes rage from attempted cases of sexual assault to trespassing and burglary, according to the police.
Members of the Property Owners Association (POA) for Turtle Dieppe Bay, Cherry and Spring Hill met on Wednesday night with local police and private security firms to find the way forward on the recent surge in crime.
Eynon said the incidents have left residents in these areas fearing for their life after being attacked or hearing of news of individuals who experienced terrifying ordeals.
“We cannot have a community where our visitors, who normally rent villas, providing much of the income for the Harbour, don’t come because they live in fear,” he added.
When residents met with police, it was an opportunity for them to share their personal experiences with criminals. The meeting also presented the opportunity for them to ask questions of the law enforcement officials and receive advice on the way forward.
One resident, who has made Antigua his home for the last 17 years, said the only commitment keeping him on the island is his responsibility to his dogs and two cats.
Residents proposed several options for preventing crime in their neighborhood to include the formation of a neighborhood watch and the possibility of establishing a gated community. They also explored the option of engaging the services of a private security firm.
“We don’t want to do things illegally; we don’t want neighbors with illegal weapons. We want to co-operate with the facilities that are available to identify which gaps need to be filled in,” Eynon said.
The resident, who has taken the lead of security matters for the community, say residents have complained that it is difficult to attract the attention of the police, “so the impression of our community is that the vast majority of crimes simply go unsolved.”
He said the communication service is poor since APUA does not offer a landline service to their part of the island; cell phone service is also weak in the area.
According to residents, significant investments in alarm systems are worthless if the alarm systems cannot call for any support back up.
The acting superintendent of police for the area, Joseph Hughes, told OBSERVER Media, “We are doing our best to ensure that we reduce the number of criminal activity within the dockyard district.”
“We have engaged high visibility patrols,” Hughes added.
He said police had been employing “stop and search” methods, which have proven effective so far.
The overall goal of the police, according to Joseph, was to see a reduction in criminal activity “and so we are going everything in our power in the area with the limited resources that we have.”
The acting superintendent of police said he was aware of the potential for crime to have a devastating impact on the economy.
The wider English Harbour community also met with Police Commissioner Vere Browne, on Tuesday, in a meeting that lasted more than three hours.