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Find immediate solution for MoBay mayhem - Bunting

Published:Wednesday | September 28, 2016 | 12:00 AM

While acknowledging that the spiralling murder toll in St James requires an emergency response, Opposition Spokesman on National Security Peter Bunting says a state of emergency is not the answer to the problem.

Bunting wants the Government to pull together all stakeholders to craft an immediate solution to the bloodletting in the Second City.

The murder toll in St James has skyrocketed to 200 since the start of the year.

Bunting says St James has outstripped all other parishes on an annualised basis, recording a frightening 144 murders per 100,000 people.

He said this is more than three times the rate for the other parishes.

According to the opposition spokesman, the prime minister should convene a high-level stakeholder summit of policymakers, including the Opposition, heads of the security forces, the private sector and civil-society groups to craft an emergency response to address the plight of citizens in St James.

Speaking yesterday during a press conference at PNP headquarters on Old Hope Road in St Andrew, Bunting said this coalition would work to develop short-, medium- and long-term responses to the violence.

Bunting reiterated the Opposition's proposal for the Government to redeploy key assets and high-ranking members of the force to Area One, which covers St James, to reflect the geographic shift in crime.

Bunting argued that 10 years ago, two-thirds of murders occurred in Kingston and St Andrew, and St Catherine. However, he said this trend has shifted to some rural parishes, particularly western Jamaica.

He said the Opposition is in agreement with the Economic Growth Council that improving citizen security is the single most important growth-inducing reform the country can undertake.

Asked whether his counterpart, Robert Montague, is out of his depth in the national security portfolio, Bunting said the minister appears not to be fully engaged with the job, adding that he may not have the enthusiasm for the task.