Sat | Nov 17, 2018

JaRistotle’s Jottings | Crime Management 101 (Part 2)

Published:Thursday | January 25, 2018 | 12:00 AM

In my jottings last week, I posited that a PEST-EL analysis is a useful tool in understanding and managing the crime crisis bedevilling the country; that such an analysis requires a multi-sectoral approach which parallels the Economic Growth Council; and that it is critical to maintain objectivity, and avoid scapegoating, blame-throwing, and blame-dodging.

The critical deliverables must be centred on identifying the core causative factors of crime on the one hand, as well as issues stymying national capacity to reduce crime and maintain the rule of law.

 

Political factors

 

From a business-related standpoint, political factors determine the extent to which governments may influence a particular aspect of the economy or a particular industry. Fiscal and monetary policies typify these factors. In the security context, the question is 'how do political factors facilitate the proliferation of crime and stymie national capacity to reduce crime and maintain the rule of law'?

The first consideration must be the association between politics and criminality. It is certainly unacceptable for political parties and politicians to have any association with criminals and persons of like notoriety, however, the Jamaican reality is that there is an intrinsic link between them. Such associations are well known to the police and John Public and need to be put before the respective political parties and politicians: ceasing and reversing politico-criminal associations are fundamental to the solutions-based outcomes we want to achieve. This is not to say that there aren't other facilitators of criminality: of course there are, including crooked cops and businessmen, but starting at the top sets the right tone for all-inclusiveness.

While this is not a mud-slinging match, but rather a truth and reconciliation process geared towards solutions, any failure by politicians to implement and maintain appropriate separation from criminals should thereafter lead to public disclosure.

 

Impact on national capacity

 

Direct political interference in the operations of the police and military is a no-no. While overt interference is not pronounced, there are other more subtle ways in which influence has been brought to bear: appointing 'puppet' officers; withholding needed resources; and failing to implement fulsome legislation to curtail the movement and capabilities of criminals.

Government bureaucracy is another impediment to national capacity. A clear example is the ongoing pantomime surrounding the importation of used cars for the police. Why does the supplier have to pay the customs duties and related fees up -front before getting possession of the vehicles, only to recover those costs from the Government?

It is a simple quid-pro-quo transaction which, if applied from the start precludes delays and add-on storage charges if the supplier falters on payment due to cash-flow or other challenges.

Out-of-the-box initiatives also include the timely disposal of multimillion dollar vehicles, boats and planes which are regularly seized or forfeited and left to rot. Sell them and put the proceeds in an escrow account to cover costs for storage and appeals and fund the police and military.

Elimination of such bureaucratic impediments redounds to the benefit of all concerned parties, expedites availability of resources and eliminates unnecessary costs which are ultimately borne by taxpayers. Improved process efficiencies will certainly enhance national capacity in all spheres of the government's activities and service delivery.

Thirdly, re-organisation and purging of the police force are vital, guided by the findings and recommendations of countless studies conducted over the last few decades and which are largely gathering dust in remote corners of various offices. There is no point in trying to reinvent the wheel where this requirement is concerned.

Lastly, legislation with relevance and teeth is crucial in curtailing the freedom of movement and accumulation of ill-gotten wealth by criminals. Take the profit out of crime and deny bail when charged with certain crimes, especially for repeat offenders.

Too often legislative instruments are incomprehensibly watered down before being passed in Parliament, decimating the original intent and purpose of the instrument. Token legislation has no place in our crime management arsenal. It should not be only the severity of sanctions that deters criminals, but also the certainty of being sanctioned.

 

Will

 

It goes without saying that in this initiative, the government must demonstrate a willingness to embrace reconciliation and transformation; lip service and whitewashing of identified shortcomings will undermine the entire initiative. Cease defending the indefensible. The mantra should be 'fix it': retire failed or failing processes and people.

Similarly, the implementation of solutions must be driven by the government, with emphasis on national gain rather than political advantage. Yes, there may well be political fallout, but success comes with sacrifice, and national interests must supersede party-political interests. Go out in a blaze of glory rather than a puff of failure.

Where there's a will, there's a way!

Coming up in Part 3. Economic factors: fuelling crime and stymying national capacity.