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Saffrey wants urgent action to stop violent attacks against the homeless

President of the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH) Kemar Saffrey today expressed fears there could be more violent attacks on homeless persons in The City and he pleaded with authorities to take immediate action to confront the problem.

At a news conference, he told reporters: “Because of the increase [in attacks] and because of the visibility of the homeless, I fear that there could be other attacks on the homeless.”

Police are currently probing the latest incidents which occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning. They have confirmed that one man is currently assisting with the investigations.

According to the BAEH, several of its clients were seriously beaten, with one client’s injuries resulting in memory loss; another was stabbed; a female client was slapped in the face and several others suffered injuries to the head and about their bodies. |

This BAEH client was injured on his hand.
This BAEH client suffered an injury to his head.

Saffrey said yesterday’s attacks were not the first reported to his organization. He disclosed that homeless people in The City have been enduring months of sporadic attacks from individuals or groups who appeared to be engaging in a “game”.

“These reports are saying that it is predominantly people from in and around the town area. It’s also from the partygoers that are coming into the Bridgetown area and also attacking the homeless. If the tables were to turn and one of them were to be killed, they would say that homeless persons killed this person or whatever the case may be.

“We do not want it to reach to that stage where the homeless are attacking the public, but they [homeless] have said that they would protect themselves.”

Police said they were informed that around 3 a.m. some young people threw stones and other missiles at vagrants who were in Freedom Square in The City. There were also reports of similar attacks in Independence Square and National Heroes Square.

Saffrey suggested that not only should the perpetrators believed to be 16 years and younger be held accountable, but their parents should have to answer for the actions of their children.

“This is something that cannot continue, and I think that when these perpetrators are found, the full weight of the law needs to be handed to them. I also think that the parents need to be held accountable because if it is what I’m hearing, that some of these [are] below the age of 16, at 16 years of age, you are on the streets between 2 o’clock and 3 o’clock doing foolishness, the parents should be held accountable.

“Somebody needs to be held accountable and if the children because of whatever reason cannot be held accountable, then the parents should be. But we cannot allow this to continue.”

Saffrey said plans are in train to address the plight of the homeless but he urge authorities to expedite the implementation.

“One of the things that I would like to see fast tracked and I have been in conversations with the minister, is for the 24-hour shelter, because we open from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. We need to be able to open 24 hours so that people don’t have to leave the shelter, but stay in and be given the care and the programmes that they need to be able to get back on their feet.

“What I can tell you is that [the policy] is moving, because I am involved in it, I can say we are on good footing with that, but we need to expedite the 24-hour shelter. We need to expedite some of the services that we are asking for from other stakeholders.” (SB)

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