JaRistotle’s Jottings | Crime Management 101 (Part 3)
In my two previous jottings, I elaborated on the usefulness of a PESTEL analysis as a means of understanding and managing crime in Jamaica, and examined how politics facilitates crime and stymies national capacity to rein in the monster. A similar examination is necessary to determine how economic factors facilitate crime and influence national crime management capacity.
Criminality flourishes because of four primary reasons:
Motivation: what drives an individual to commit a crime usually for gain and influenced by the likelihood of success and avoidance of being caught:
Determination: usually a factor of motivation, but more so of desperate circumstances which fuel a determination to survive;
Capability: namely in terms of weapons, mobility, communi-cations and money;
Opportunity: the easier the target, the easier the crime and the more likely the crime will be committed.
From a business perspective, economic factors relate to the drivers of national economic performance that directly impact business performance and consumer spending power. Factors include inflation rates, interest rates, foreign exchange rates, economic growth patterns and foreign direct investment.
In the same manner that these factors have implications for pricing strategies and consumer spending power, crimes such as extortion and corruption inflate costs and divert resources away from the most vulnerable sectors of society, exasperating an already pressured economy.
The cost of crime
Recent estimates suggest that crime is costing Jamaica approximately $68 billion annually. The fallout from crime (Gleaner Editorial: September 19, 2016) includes "death and injury, lost production because of theft and extortion, higher spending on security, higher cost of transactions in a low-trust society, reduced worker productivity, increased uncertainty and risk, reduced access to borrowing, more expensive insurance, more costly capital, business closures, capital flight, the emigration of skilled workers, the loss of foreign investment, reduction of people's ability to save and willingness to invest, reduced rates of capital accumulation, and depressed future growth rates".
Taking the profit out of crime
Beating the system has become the norm, even for those who can afford compliance, while for the economically desperate, crimina-lity is a means of survival. In questioning the rationality of crime (Economist: July 23, 2012), it was suggested that despite hefty fines for corporate underhandedness "corporate rule breaking remained prevalent largely because the fines, the price of crime, were too low and that if the probability of being caught was sufficiently low, then the expected costs might be outweighed by the benefits". Deterring crime requires that not only should sanctions be severe, but that there should also be the certainty of being sanctioned.
Taking the profit out of crime is a key strategy for reducing motivation. As such, we need to go beyond the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) to a more intrusive system of having individuals account for the legitimacy of their assets.
How does an unemployed individual of no fixed address own multiple luxury vehicles, cover matey's rent in upscale housing communities and repeatedly afford the most expensive lawyers when they are brought before the courts? Are the costs of illegal guns and drugs analysed to determine supply and demand dynamics in specific areas and to the where, who and when of security operations? Target the criminals, seize their assets, tie them up in the courts, and let them account for every dollar spent. Deny them the use of blood money to feed the licky-licky culture that has engulfed our society and the attendant soul-for-cash trade.
Utilising the proceeds of crime
It is ironic that while the security forces struggle to access funds to procure and maintain equipment, criminals have no such challenges. Inexplicably, seized and forfeited assets, tools and proceeds of crime, are left to rot rather than being sold or pressed into service. Monetary fines are deposited into the furthest recesses of the Consolidated Fund rather than being used to retool the security forces that executed the facilitating arrests. Duh!
To paraphrase Gavin Kennedy (Encyclopedia Britannica: Defense Economics), 'The best option to criminality is deterrence. By allocating resources for a minimum level of security capability, a nation ensures that it can resist an escalation of crime and severely damage the criminals' networks. By making credible its willingness to use force, the nation aims to leave potential criminals in no doubt of the consequences they will suffer if they resort to criminality. Deterrence, expensive but finite, is incomparably less expensive than having to deal with infinite runaway crime'.
Jamaica needs a strategy of credible deterrence based on capacity and severe and certain sanctions. Take the profit out of crime and utilise the forfeited proceeds to continuously enhance the capacity of the security forces. Once deterrence is achieved, we all benefit from the absence of crime.