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Caricom ballistics tracking system to help cut case backlog

Assault rifles seized by police in an operation during the 2002-2008 crime wave in Guyana.

The 15-nation Caribbean Community (Caricom) hopes a new ballistic information system will help track down guns used by certain gangs and reduce the backlog of criminal cases across the region.

The Regional Integrated Ballistic Information Network (RIBIN)  would be empowered by a Charter and Participation Agreement.

the Caribbean Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) said in a statement that the RIBIN Charter is intended to provide standard operating procedures  in the processing of ballistic data and generating intelligence to assist CARICOM States to solve gun-related crimes within national jurisdictions and across borders.

“The rising level of firearm incidents, combined with an ongoing reliance on manual traditional methods of firearms identification, has contributed significantly to a backlog of criminal cases across the Region,” added IMPACS.

The Pan Caribbean agency said that with the common agreement and signing of the RIBIN Charter and Participation Agreement, CARICOM countries would for the first time begin sharing ballistic information across multiple jurisdictions. Through RIBIN, the Region will be better equipped to prevent and solve gun crimes.

“The RIBIN mechanism will provide CARICOM states with the capacity to track guns and ammunition used in crimes. This will increase Member States’ capacity to link firearms used by specific gangs and also allow them the capability to trace the connections in the organized trade in illicit guns and ammunition,” the agency added.

The 5th Meeting of the Council of Ministers Responsible for National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE) had decided on the establishment of the board.

They are the Director of the Forensic Science Laboratory Jamaica, Dr. Judith Mowatt, who was nominated to serve as the Chair. The Vice-Chair is the Director of the Forensic Science Centre of Trinidad and Tobago, Ms. Arlette Lewis. The Chair and Vice Chair are appointed for a two year term.

Other Board Members selected at the inaugural meeting are the Commissioner of Police designated to represent the Standing Committee for Commissioners of Police, President of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP), Head of the Integrated Ballistic Information System (IBIS) Unit in Barbados; Executive Director of CARICOM IMPACS; Legal Advisor of CARICOM IMPACS; Regional Crime and Security Strategy (RCSS) Co-coordinator; and IT Manager of the Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC).

In carrying out its functions, the new Board will oversee the overall governing structure for RIBIN.
The Board will assist in the formulation of training and certification programmes in the area of ballistic examinations throughout the Region to improve human resource capacity; strengthen presentation of evidence in court and also present recommendations to the CONSLE on issues relating to ballistic information and firearms.

CARICOM IMPACS will serve as the Secretariat of the Board.