Youth, Gangs and Violence: those are the most perplexing issues of our time… add in readily available weapons, and every week, the cocktail of anti-social behaviour plays itself out in waves of violence.

Research has been done, interventions made, truces agreed - and still, it continues. Since the gang truce in early September, though, there have only been three of what might be called gang-related murders. Now, experts from CARICOM are in Belize to lend their assistance.

Today the Belize Police Department's Community Policing Unit along with the CARICOM Secretariat held a one day national stakeholders consultation on Youth, gangs and violence.

The overall objective of the consultation was to develop a gang prevention, youth and community project - which is to be piloted in Belize. Six CARICOM experts are in Belize to assess the situation and get the project on its way.

Monica Bodden spoke to one of them:

Douglas Hyde, National Youth Program Coordinator
"This is very important for us; it's not the first but definitely the first outside of the region from the CARICOM secretariat as Belize and three other countries; St. Kitts, Trinidad, Guyana and Belize were selected as pilot countries by CARICOM secretariat to work very closely in this whole area of gang, youth and violence, and so today what we have done is to invite stakeholders to work very closely with youth in and out of school to assist in this whole process in the whole area of gang violence and the whole gang culture to better understand it - to find ways to address some of the issues, but very importantly we brought persons who are experts in this whole area of crime and violence also to address some of the whole issues - to do presentations and to share the experience to Belize and how to go around and to deal with some of the issues."

Dr. Isbin Williams, Physiatrist
"I am doing a presentation which basically takes a look at violence prevention as a CARICOM development imperative. Violence in our communities impacts among other things development very significant. Nobody comes to a place that is violent to invest, but it impacts us in other ways of course. It impacts governance, it has its impacts on security, it has its impacts of the bringing of our youths, and what we are producing for tomorrow, and it has many other implications. Ultimately it translates into stimming our growth as a region as a sovereign state and in the outcome for the future youth and developments economics, social and other aspects of developments."

Douglas Hyde, National Youth Program Coordinator
"Well at this level what CARCOM secretariat is doing is to build on what we are doing. They recognize that Belize have a lot of strength, they recognize that Belize is very much ahead of a lot of the other countries. What do we have? We have the communications going on with the gangs. Right now we are in the whole process of the truce with these different groups and of course we have the young persons doing some work. What we need to do now is to go deeper with these individuals to help them in the whole area of life skills and survival skills, to help them in terms to better their lives and better themselves and very importantly, to exit the gangs, because we want to get them out of the gang. Today will help us to with the support of CARCOM secretariat."

Earlier this month, the first sub regional youth, gangs and violence meeting was held in Georgetown Guyana to discuss the pilot project which contends with gang violence in Belize, Guyana, St Kitts and Trinidad and Tobago.

Channel 7