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May Pen needs crime clampdown - Stakeholders

Published:Thursday | July 6, 2017 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston
Dei Rasi Freckleton
William Shagoury

Founder of Peace and Love in May Pen Dei Rasi Freckleton and Chairman of the Clarendon Crime Prevention Committee William Shagoury are convinced that the level of crime in the parish makes it one of the areas Prime Minister Andrew Holness should first declare a zone of special operations.

The two men, who have spent some time trying to prevent the bloodletting in the central Jamaica parish, agree that the greater May Pen area is the right place to start.

Based on police statistics, approximately 50 per cent of murders committed in Clarendon occurred in that area. Therefore, according to Freckleton and Shagoury, the zones of special operations should include, but not be limited to, Effortville/Farm and Bucknor as statistics show that these communities have a high level of volatility.

"The areas with records of high volatility should receive most attention as it is really the work of a few that is inadvertently giving the communities a bad reputation," Freckleton told The Gleaner.

Shagoury, who is also the custos of the parish, pointed out that there are no hard and fast solutions, adding that crime in the parish occurs sporadically.

"It is difficult to say this is definitely a hotspot. It might be that way today, and next week, it's a totally different area," he said.

In recommending solutions, Freckleton wants the focus to be shifted from cause and effect.

"The issue, I believe, is that we keep focusing on the effects, and that is the wrong thing. There needs to be a renewed focus on the causes of crime, and treat those fundamental issues in an effort to rescue the future," he said.

He also pointed out that if more emphasis was placed on the causes, then naturally, more effort would go into social programmes geared at rescuing at-risk boys as young as seven years old so as not to have the issues we have now when they are 17.

"Everything is mobile now, and, as such, perpetrators rely heavily on this phenomenon. The fact that Jamaica has no unilateral ID system as yet, persons committing these crimes are migrating easily and are affecting other areas," Freckleton said.

"It is my belief that a national ID tied to social security should be granted to each citizen, coupled with ownership of land, so that a sense of pride can be infused."

Shagoury says that the lack of employment, especially among young people, and a breakdown in family structures, where fathers are missing, are the key contributing factors to the escalation of crime in the parish.

Issues stem from poor parenting - Shagoury

Criminal activities in the areas deemed for special zones of operations in Clarendon should include unannounced, multiple stop and searches. This is the view of both Dei Rasi Freckleton, founder of Peace and Love in May Pen, and William Shagoury, chairman of the Clarendon Crime Prevention Committee.

"They also need to set up a system where they can glean information on the people who are causing the problem as it's just a few bad eggs in the areas that are spoiling the lot," said Shagoury. He also shared that they should consider setting up impromptu sting operations, which, he believes, would help in finding guns.

The Zones of Special Operations Bill, which was passed in the House of Representatives last month, is to be debated in the Senate today before becoming law.




The legislation, if it becomes law, will give the prime minister power, in consultation with the National Security Council, to declare an area a zone of special operations in order to tackle increased volatility in a community. However, the zone can only be established after the police commissioner and the chief of defence staff make a request for such a declaration in writing to the prime minister.

Alluding to the 'informer' culture, Shagoury said that there are ways around it to still fish out information.

Tackling the crime monster is a daunting task, but for Freckleton, the focus should now be on effective parenting. "The bulk of the issues we face stem from the type of parenting this country experiences," he said.

Commenting on the implementation of the special zones of operations, Freckleton said that given the current state, no one would want to see crime thrive, and with the special zones, there must be a clear-cut legislative and judiciary framework.

"It would not sit well with the country if there are abuses of additional powers to the enforcers of the law," he said.