Tue | Aug 22, 2017

JLP manifesto to highlight crime-cutting strategy

Published:Friday | September 18, 2015 | 9:00 AM
Derrick Smith

Opposition Spokesman on National Security Derrick Smith has disclosed that the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) manifesto is "substantially ready" and will feature strategies to combat criminality.

Declaring that the national security portfolio was in dire straits, with Jamaicans dying and the police reeling under pressure, Smith said 169 more persons have been killed violently so far this year, when compared to a similar period last year.

Incidents of shootings, he said, have gone up as well.

Smith dared National Security Minister Peter Bunting to do what Dr Peter Phillips has done with the finance portfolio.

He charged that Bunting has retreated into helpless silence in contrast to Phillips' determined, if not slavish, adherence to the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The former national security minister urged Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to prove at the People's National Party (PNP) annual conference, which starts today, that her Government is committed to saving Jamaican lives by effectively tackling the scourge.

COMMITMENT QUESTIONED

"They have made up their minds to stick with the pro-gramme of the IMF, to respond and please our international partners; very disciplined, very committed they are in achieving some success, depending on how you look at it," said Smith.

"They don't show that level of discipline and commitment to solving crime," he added. "A JLP administration, as it has done in the past, will show that level of commitment."

Smith said the JLP would also commission a study to determine whether salary negotiations with the police should be separated from other public-sector workers.

"We would have to do a study to see if the police can be removed from the centralised public-sector bargaining unit in terms of remuneration," he said Phillips.

"It is something that I would strongly recommend, because you have a national problem, and it impinges on police operating at 100 per cent, and there is a demoralised situation in many instances," he added.

Said Smith: "The police must be better paid, and we demonstrated that when we were in office."

The first thing that a JLP administration must do is increase funding of national security portfolio," said Smith.

"You have to consider the portfolio as your number-one priority problem and find money to address it," he added.

Smith said he has been telling JLP Leader Andrew Holness that the portfolio of national security has to be properly funded.

"You can't fight this scourge without using money to do the things that need to be done," he asserted. "We increased the mobility of the police force."

Smith promised that the JLP will also audit the existing legislative framework, which encompasses the anti-gang legislation, to determine how effective it has been at fighting criminality.

He also outlined plans to create regional morgues.

"There are hundreds of bodies in private morgues all over the country. This is something that is untidy ... [and] impacts investigations," he said.

Smith also suggested that staff complement in the force will be increased by a JLP Government.

"We are under-policed, given the gravity of the situation, and so we need to move from three police per 100,000 to five per 100,000," he said.

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com