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Crime pays in Jamaica - Senior Cop

Published:Saturday | December 31, 2016 | 12:00 AMJason Cross

Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Clarendon Fitz Bailey believes that rational decisions are being made by persons to become criminals when they weigh the benefits against risks.

"As far as I see it, crime pays in Jamaica. People tend to look at crime and sometimes people make rational choices, meaning that they look at the risks and they look at the benefits and they make a decision whether they want to engage in crime," the senior cop asserted.

"A man looks at his choice and says if I do this, (what is) the likelihood of me being caught, the likelihood of me being punished, and the likelihood of me going before the court and getting a conviction (to) spend a long time in prison. Those are some of the things that I think some of the guys look at, and they'll take the risk," Bailey told The Gleaner.

He indicated that the brutality of criminal elements forces law-abiding citizens to enter a code of silence, making the job of the police very difficult.

In making a case for a strong partnership between the police and citizens, Bailey argues that the police alone cannot fix the crime situation plaguing the country, noting that without the input of law-abiding Jamaicans, it will be more difficult to effectively tackle crime.

"Remember that we have a code of silence in Jamaica where nobody sees or speaks, because these guys enforce that code by being very brutal, and the police cannot be everywhere at the same time. Building relationships with our citizens is very critical. Until we re-socialise our people, then this code of silence will continue," said Bailey.

Witness protection

Another element that is needed to boost crime-fighting is the issue of guaranteed protection for cooperating witnesses, according to the senior cop.

"Again, we have to guarantee protection for people if they do support the crime-fighting initiative. We have to ensure that there are mechanisms in place to support them."

University of the West Indies (UWI) Professor Anthony Clayton agrees with Bailey that crime pays in Jamaica.

"Yes, it does, unfortunately," Clayton told The Gleaner.

He said there are a number of factors which cause this; one being limited access to legitimate opportunities.

"One is that there is a lack of other legitimate opportunities, but one of the most important factors is the fact that many people now can get involved in the lottery scam and they still see this as a relatively low-risk activity. It can be very lucrative," he said.

Clayton also highlighted that criminals become role models for others who see them as successful people. He stressed that the fight against crime will continue to be daunted if the glamour in crime is not eroded.

"They see other people succeeding, so you have role models around you; people who have gone into this line of criminal activity and seem to be doing well at it. We won't really succeed in the fight against crime until we make it a very high-risk activity for the criminals, and this we have not yet managed to do," the UWI professor concluded.