Joint Press Release On Addressing Crime by AHTA, ATB, ACOC

We received this letter from the AHTA today

Attached is a press release statement, on recommendations on the way forward from the Anguilla Tourist Board, the Anguilla Hotel and Tourism Association, and the Anguilla Chamber of Commerce, presented to the Government, Commissioner and Governor.

These measures came as a result of the first meeting which was held by the three organization, The Governor and the Police Commissioner on February 4th, 2013.

( Please note that this is a joint statement of the three organizations)

Gilda Gumbs-Samuel ( Mrs.)
Executive Director
Anguilla Hotel and Tourism Association

You can read (left-click) or download (right click) the press release attachment here.

Bottom line? I have read this, first saw it last week. Almost 3 weeks “post-Blanchards,” we are still lacking a strong, visionary and yet do-able plan.

This appears, at best, to be some sort of stopgap measure. We need much more than this to protect our citizens and tourists. It needs to be better defined to comment in more detail.

It’s Official! RAPF Has Caught the (Alleged) Little Bay Bad Guys

It’s official! Here is the release from the Royal Anguilla Police Force…

“On Sunday 30th January 2013 Police responded to a report of a Robbery at Little Bay, on arrival it was reported that four tourist were on the beach, three in the water and one on the sand, when two masked men came down the Hill approached the one on the sand assaulted her and took all their belongings and climbed back up the Hill. Police are conducting Investigation

On Monday 11th February 2013 Police arrested and charged S.T of South Valley for handling stolen goods after he was found in possession of a cell phone stolen during a Robbery of four tourist at Little Bay on Sunday 30th January 2013, he was taken before the Magistrate Court on Wednesday 13thFebruary 2013 and granted bailed until the 3rd May 2013.

On Friday 15th February 2013 Police arrested and charged three young men from the Valley for the Robbery of the four tourist at Little Bay on Sunday 30th January 2013. K.L, G.S and C.L appeared before the Magistrate Court on Friday 15th February 2013 and were all remanded to her Majesty Prison until Friday 22nd February 2013. Some of the stolen items were recovered.”

Well done, RAPF! Solving crime is a big part of preventing it. After all, it does not pay if you end up in jail!

Good News On The Anguilla Crime-Fighting Front!

Since February 6, a promising thread has been circulating via a mailing list among 60+ prominent residents of the island. It includes every member of government, opposition politicians, the Governor, hotel GMs, restaurateurs, local business people, doctors and lawyers, etc.

Of the 7 elected politicians, only Haydn Hughes, Parliamentary Secretary In Charge of Tourism, has made any posts to the mailing list. His last one, his 5th, was a major breakthrough!

We now need only the Governor to agree to meet and review the full plan.

The mailing list thread started with a comprehensive review of the situation and proposed clear, do-able ACTIONS. In the days that followed, the plan sharpened, but was still waiting for YES answers from the Hon. Haydn Hughes and the British Governor, Alistair Harrison.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The Governor is legally and constitutionally responsible for our external defense and internal security including the police. And the government pays the bills. So buy-in is necessary from both.

Here is the essence of that plan, called…

Take Anguilla Back

The goal is to galvanize the population into fighting the threat that lies within, the criminal element. Most don’t realize how crime on tourists can rapidly push this country back into poverty.

When they understand that silence dooms the island, they will TAKE ANGUILLA BACK from the thieves, gangs and murderers that terrorize them locally and that controls our future internationally.

The plan focuses on making EVERYONE safe, residents and tourists. While there is some emphasis on eliminating tourist crime, stopping crime on everyone in Anguilla is the full goal.

The plan lays out a “marketing program” that is basically free and that will be highly effective (assuming that all the key stakeholders are truly on board).

The foundation of the program is the establishment of a “Take Anguilla Back” fund. This fund, and the use of, follows the St. Kitts model which has cut the number of murders from 35 in 2011 to 20 in 2012, and has reduced serious crime by 61% in that same time span, just one year.

The concept is simple. Managers of the fund (and we have learned a lot from the person who instituted this program in St. Kitts) work with the Commissioner. The question is simple…

“Commissioner Proctor, what do you need?”

They prioritize by starting with whatever makes the single biggest difference and continue working from there. And you never, ever stop getting better.

The plan also proposes a solution to the fear by Anguillians of giving information about crimes. It is a tight-knit society. Everyone knows everyone else’s business.

They are too afraid that anonymity will be lost with the current system. They are scared of the retribution that will follow.

The program used by St. Kitts has been customized for complete anonymity. And people have responded, breaking crimes that have resulted in arrests AND preventing other crimes.

In addition to providing funding for needed equipment key recommendations include…

1) Increase police presence dramatically. It can be done without hiring

2) Random checks of cars and homes for guns.

3) Random checks of beaches, especially the more isolated ones where you may often see a single group.

4) Neighborhood patrols — “hello, how are things?”

5) Intensive local marketing to educate Anguillians to how a small number of thugs are threatening their futures. Includes an anthem by Bankie Banx.

6) There is a rapid funding plan in place. One private individual has pledged US$50,000 if it is matched by the Government, Governor and 3 other individuals or groups.

(The St. Kitts program found that it was important for government to have a reasonable level of “skin in the game.”)

That $300,000 can deliver a world of help for the RAPF. It will put “The TAB Revolution” firmly on the way. Every penny will be used to “Take Anguilla Back.”

We will enable the Commissioner Proctor to make EVERYONE safe (and then ever safer). We will inspire and mobilize the people to the clarion call….

“TAKE ANGUILLA BACK” (complete with anthem)

All that this requires is the ACTION of saying “yes, I want to see more”…

There is a lot more to the program. We’re waiting for the Governor to set a date to meet with Haydn and the Commissioner before putting it online.

He has yet to say a word to the mailing list. Haydn is trying to set a date to meet ASAP. If we don’t meet by Monday, I will publish the plan on Monday night.

I see no reason why this presentation would not happen. There is no obligation to reviewing the plan in full. If the Governor and government decide to go with it, $50,000 is a small amount to win a battle that all agree must be won at all costs.

That is the summary of what has happened from February 6-14, 2013. Several members criticized Haydn Hughes, Parliamentary Secretary In Charge of Tourism, for several of his replies, which appeared to them to be “just more words” and not ACTION. At least, though, he WAS interacting with people on the mailing list, unlike the Governor who had remained silent (and remains so).

On February 15, Haydn Hughes, Parliamentary Secretary In Charge of Tourism, shocked everyone. He wrote a compelling, inclusive, non-political, ACTION-oriented letter that said far more than “yes.” Here is that letter (reprinted with his permission). While it specifically addresses two members who had been critical, it is actually written to all, as you will see…

Good afternoon Steve/Ken,

Steve, a former General Manager of mine years ago when I worked at Cuisinart Resort said to me, “you can write whatever you want in an email, just do not hit the send button” and yesterday I answered you in a rush and I realized that I had sent you an answer that was exactly that and opposite to what we are trying to accomplish. Basically it was words and more talk.

I must do better than that starting today and I apologize for that. Your reply to me was correct in that Ken Evoy put together an ACTION plan and laid it on the table. While I have seen internal plans in the past, no one else has done so… at least not with this vision and breadth. I met Ken in 2010 and I am sure, he has much more behind what he posted so it would be good for us to get together ASAP.

I have not yet replied to Ken’s request for ACTION. To Gilda, Pam, Peter and others who have responded, thank you for the extra little push. I agree with your sentiments. ACTION is what we need. Just over a week ago, I had a good discussion with Peter and as always, he was ready to do whatever he needed to do to get us on the right track.

I have given this letter a great deal of thought and time in writing it. INACTION cannot happen again and to all who are all party to this discussion, your time for ACTION is coming so be prepared to ACT.

I am more than “engaged.” I am committed and there is no doubt, all of you are and so we must if we ought to preserve our island paradise. The Anguillian people are afraid. Our tourists are afraid. Persons on tripadvisor and other social media are understandably concerned about the recent incidents so these criminals are ruining our reputation at home and around the world via the Internet. A vicious circle threatens to spiral our way of life ever downward that we might never recover from if we do not act NOW!.

Ken lays out a way back. His post presents a strong, proud Anguillian vision and an ACTION plan that makes sense and that has been successful elsewhere. There is a theme that we are all familiar with and it states that we should “Take Anguilla Back” and this is what we must all do.

I do not know why I did not answer Take Anguilla Back right away, Steve but thanks again for the push. It caused me to carefully re-read Ken’s post. This has been a lesson for me and I pray that it be a lesson for all. Perhaps it is too easy to put painful matters aside and deal with more comfortable matters.

But nothing has a higher priority than this issue which threatens our very way of life. Sometimes it is easier to watch from afar and safer to remain silent but silence is perhaps what got us here. It is time to stand up and stand out! I am hereby taking ACTION upon the step that Ken requested, which was: “Answer ‘no’ or set a date.”

From the look of it, we are all prepared to answer yes with real ACTION. I cannot make a commitment that we accept the plan because Ken does not ask for that, and also because “the devil is in the details” and Government (Executive Council) too must fully ‘buy in’ to this plan and I will do all I can to ensure the same but I do say YES to ACTION.

Let us move forward to the next step. We must leave the past behind and put ALL politics aside. Ken spoke of the Titanic in his post. There is no room for our well-publicized differences to continue while we all sink! As he requested, I am immediately contacting His Excellency, the Governor and The Commissioner of Police to set the soonest date possible to meet and hear Ken’s plan in more detail. (I would try my best to make for Monday of next week)

It is time for us all to stand as one, united with the ultimate goal of stamping out this scourge once and for all and Take Anguilla Back.

Kindest regards

Hon. Haydn Hughes has received a lot of criticism since the Blanchard robbery on January 31. He was criticized for his “Address on crime.” His replies in our mailing list were oft-“mashed,” including my me (Ken Evoy).

Instead of pulling his head back into the metaphorical tortoise shell, he learned and tried again. If everyone can put the toxic mix of political bickering behind them and deal with crime as a unified team, beating this problem becomes almost easy. If not, expect the island to burn while they all fiddle around.

I am sure that some will be unable to overcome their cynicism. Several people have written me to not trust the letter or the man. That is the type of attitude that will doom us. An analysis of Haydn Hughes’ letter shows that the man deserves the benefit of the doubt. It…

1) goes above and beyond — all he needed to say was, “OK, sure, let’s meet.”

2) simply rings true (consistent in tone throughout, presents one compelling vision and it avoids blaming or antagonizing anyone, choosing instead to look to the future, not the past)

3) has no ulterior motive. There is nothing in it for Haydn Hughes to write this if he does not mean it. This letter binds him and all involved to raise their games.

4) puts him on record as being deeply committed to do what’s right and to not playing politics.

It is up to him and everyone to live up to that vision. If everyone does that, if we all act with the best interests of the people truly at heart, crime will be handily defeated.

In this little island that we call home, EVERY organization (British governor, Anguillian government, private organizations) plays politics, holds grudges, works on the basis of distrust. The most important part of his letter is the leadership that re-sets tolerance for game-playing to zero. It pushes all parties to govern themselves accordingly…

All of us must look to the future and pull together. As I said in my reply to that letter…

Yours is the letter of a committed statesman. Humble yet bold, openly transparent and embracing, ISSUE-focused and devoid of any politics, it is remarkable.

Your clear call to ACTION BY ALL is unmissable.

THIS is the hand that we all needed.

Unfortunately, it is also the sound of “one hand clapping.” We need one more hand so that we can ALL start clapping loudly against crime.

Thank you, Mr. Hughes, for reaching out. Please, Governor, grab that hand in friendship. The step is small..

Just say “yes” to meeting. It is the first step towards what we all must do…

Take Anguilla Back