MP Gracita Arrindell on L’Escargot Crime, Barkers, Immigration Service

Several business people over the years have succumbed to armed robberies due to gun violence. Last week Friday once again, gun violence took place where a restaurant owner was injured. The owner of L’Escargot Restaurant was shot by one of two assailants who waited until the restaurant closed. Besides the owner of the restaurant, also present was his wife and two tourist friends.


This armed robbery could have had a tragic ending similar to the double murder in Cupecoy in the third week of September. My prayers go out as well to the victims of this latest assault on the victims, our business community, and our Country.

Many homes in the past have been through the process of a home invasion experience in our neighbourhoods.

I commend the communities of Beacon Hill, Maho and Cupecoy for coming together to form the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Council of Beacon Hill/Maho/Cupecoy. This group also organized the first ‘Get to know your Neighbour’ event over the past weekend. The initiative is to create safer communities and this effort should be copied by other communities on the island which can work together with our community police officers in fighting crime in our neighbourhoods.

I am calling on the Minister of Justice to review current crime fighting measures. As one group is captured, another group becomes active, and our community is feeling unsafe. Our tourists are feeling unsafe. Our business people are targets and are feeling unsafe. We cannot allow this to continue!

We are heading into the high tourist season and we need to see some form of action that is based on a strategy, and it must be a sustainable long-term action plan and not a short-term intervention as has been the case in the past. Where are the controls of vehicles especially during evening hours? In the past the authorities have confiscated a number of weapons including guns. One less gun on the road means one less crime is committed. Why don’t we have these controls anymore? Parliament needs to be informed on this matter.

With respect to immigration; as one criminal group is apprehended, another one creeps up and starts a wave of crime.

The community wants to know if these criminals are entering the country illegally, and/ or they are lawfully entering the country and overstaying their welcome. If either one is the case, what is being done to deal with these criminals? Investments have been made in border control efforts and the Coast Guard also plays a role in this area. Perhaps additional tools may be needed by law enforcement. If the Honorable Minister of Justice needs additional tools to deal more effectively with this worrisome situation and if it requires amending certain laws, we would like to know and act swiftly.

Last week the Prime Minister announced that Immigration Services has reached a level where the Plan of Approach attached to the operations of the services is no longer needed. Parliament and by extension the people now need to be informed about the status of our country’s immigration services.

I too share with many the grave concern regarding the surge of barkers. Our citizens, including taxi drivers must know what corrective and or deterred measures are taken to deal with and avoid this recurrent unruly situation. It is downright unacceptable.

The surge of barkers came last week when four cruise ships were in port with more than 20,000 passengers. I would like to know what is being done with respect to this matter especially with the high season not far off. Do these barkers and vendors of merchandise have permits to ply their merchandise? What is the status of controls? What is the planning for the upcoming season?

We have to protect our cruise tourism industry and the visitor experience must not be overshadowed by overzealous people who can put our tourism (cruise) industry in jeopardy. As a people we cannot tolerate this.


Hon. Gracita Arrindell

Member of Parliament

United Peoples (UP) Party