In criminology, the “broken windows” theory states that visible signs of crime, antisocial behaviour and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes.

“The broken windows model of policing was first described in 1982 in a seminal article by Wilson and Kelling,” according to the Center for Evidenced-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University in Virginia. “Briefly, the model focuses on the importance of disorder (e.g., broken windows) in generating and sustaining more serious crime. Disorder is not directly linked to serious crime; instead, disorder leads to increased fear and withdrawal from residents, which then allows more serious crime to move in because of decreased levels of informal social control.”


In the VI

On Tortola, I recently followed a police vehicle which did not stop at the stop sign in front of Flow and did not indicate a right turn in front of the House of Assembly building nor a left turn into Huntums Ghut. A while ago, I followed another police car from Prospect Reef to East End, which ran the stop signs at the top of Fort Hill, above Josiahs Bay, and in front of the East End Police Station. It didn’t use turn signals either.

There will no lawful society here until the police start obeying and enforcing all the laws. Generations have grown up watching their parents, relatives and others ignoring the laws, reinforcing their attitude of entitlement to do the same.

I mentioned to a driver stopped beside me at a traffic light that his brake lights weren’t working. His reply was, “I born here; don’t need no [expletive] brake lights.”

The attitude that it doesn’t matter if we don’t stop at every stop sign, stop traffic to chat or drop/pickup, park in no-parking zones, or park obstructing traffic, leads to a disregard for serious laws, including violent crime.


Unpopular laws?

If laws are unpopular, government should rescind them, not just stop enforcement of them. It appears that laws requiring child safety seats, hands-free cellular usage, tinting that you can see through, helmets, licences, and insurance for scooters are all unpopular given the lack of enforcement. Or it may be that our elected officials didn’t confer with the police department as to the practicality of enforcement before enactment.

Regardless, the Virgin Islands is doomed to lawlessness if the laws aren’t enforced and obeyed.