Sun | Feb 18, 2018

Editorial | Failing to act can cost lives

Published:Saturday | December 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Calls to Crime Stop Jamaica reached a seven-year high in 2017, which, hopefully, indicates a turnaround in the mindset of individuals who now realise that crime is threatening to create chaos. Indeed, crime is holding many communities hostage at this time.

The information was released by Crime Stop, which represents a meaningful partnership between the police, the media and the community. The programme, which encourages citizens to give tips to the police, is administered by the National Crime Prevention Fund under the direction of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica.

The worth of the information given is demonstrated by the fact that citizens' calls led to the recovery of 23 illegal guns, while 55 persons were charged with various criminal offences.

The stakes are very high, and even though some communities experience more crime than others, it is a reasonable assessment that no neighbourhood is free of crime. Families are being ripped apart by violence and communities shredded. We see it manifested in schools, at the workplace, and in public spaces. It seems, therefore, that every citizen can play an important role in helping the police to fight crime and clean up our neighbourhoods for this and the next generation.

We hope more people will be inspired to help the police in the days ahead, because a safer community benefits everyone. Even if you have not been the victim of violence, it's no reason to be smug, because you are still being robbed. The cost of treating the victims of violence means that your tax dollars are spent on patching gunshot and knife wounds, money that could be used to care for persons afflicted by other ailments.

Every business person is affected by crime because many have to employ security guards, enlist armed couriers, and install and maintain security cameras and other apparatuses at their workplace.

Too often we have heard that investigations into some of the most egregious crimes hit a dead end for lack of information. Without the help of witnesses, these crimes will not be solved. Worse, the criminals are left on the streets to continue their rampage.

We understand that some persons do not trust the police enough to share information for fear of reprisal, and this is something the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) will have to work on, for it is important to build trust with the citizens.

Criminals have become more brazen these days, carrying out attacks before scores of witnesses and in broad daylight. We will not enjoy a good quality of life and communities will decay and die if criminals are allowed to thrive.

With more people taking the step of calling in their tips, we submit that this may be a good time to revive the Neighbourhood Watch Programme, for this sends a definite signal to criminals that people are serious about keeping their neighbourhoods clean.

Another added benefit of neighbourhoods working together is that small problems can be spotted and dealt with before they become major irritants.

It's a tough task, but we can resolve to work together to reclaim our communities in 2018.