Gleaner crime forum | Social intervention needed in Westmoreland
There are growing calls for more social intervention in Westmoreland, which has seen murders increase by almost 200 per cent since 2014.
"Everybody has to be called to book, and everybody has to play his or her part towards resolving the situation as it now exists, in terms of the church, in terms of the schools, in terms of the community organisations," said custos of Westmoreland, the Reverend Hartley Perrin, during a Gleaner Crime Forum in Savanna-la-Mar last week.
"Just about everybody has to recognise that we are going in the wrong direction, and we have to turn things around if we are looking for the future," added Perrin, as he described the crime situation in the parish as alarming.
Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar, Bertel Moore, agreed, as he argued that the security forces are playing their part, but emphasised that there was need for continued social intervention, to present an alternative for the many youngsters who are getting involved in crime in the parish.
Making his input at the forum held at the Sean Lavery Faith Hall last Thursday, parish manager for the Social Development Commission (SDC) in Westmoreland, Ron Daley, said that while the entity had been doing its part to capture the at-risk youth, the "bling-bling culture" in the parish was influencing their behaviour.
According to Daley, the SDC does not have the financial resources to offer alternatives to youngsters in search of quick cash.
VERY DIFFICULT TASK
He argued that it was going to be a very difficult task for the SDC to create programmes for these at-risk youth, as the benefits of crime have made many of them rich at a very young age.
"Not to compete, because we do not have the financial power to compete, but we have to design programmes that can be just as attractive, meaning something that can channel them and lead them into another path," said Daley.
In the meantime, recently elected chairman of the Westmoreland Parish Development Committee, Michael Jackson, said that his organisation would be playing a facilitatory role in bringing all the stakeholders together to create a sustainable development plan.