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‘Nation in crisis’ - Greater accountability needed to tackle crime, says Overton

Published:Wednesday | February 28, 2018 | 12:45 AMBrian Walker

Retired Lieutenant Commander George Overton believes that despite a number of plans and strategies to address crime and violence, there needs to be more accountability regarding implementation.

“We are a nation in crisis. Crime, violence, lawlessness and disorder are overtaking us, and we don’t have anything (accountability),” noted Overton as he weighed in at The Gleaner’s Jamaica Under Labour Stakeholder Forum recently. He made reference to Jamaica’s national development plan, Vision 2030, which he said speaks to “all of these things”. But he argued, “Vision 2030 has no owner, it has no driver.”

However, National Security Minister Robert Montague rejected the call to articulate a crime plan. “The society calls the Government to say, ‘put the policies in place and do not interfere in operations’, then now you turn around asking me to give you an operational plan. Let us make up our minds,” said Montague.

He pointed out that his role is to implement policies and he is moving ahead with the Five-Pillar Strategy for Crime Prevention and Citizen Security. It includes effective policing, crime prevention through social development, rehabilitation and redemption, swift and sure justice and situational crime prevention.

However, according to Overton, the strategy is being championed only by the minister. 

“We have never heard anybody else echo this five-pillar plan. We have never heard anybody say that, George Overton, John Henry, Bobby Smith are responsible for the implementation of this five-pillar plan.”

For Winston Lawson, director of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, he has an issue with accountability within the Cabinet. 

“I’m still a bit disappointed, because I was certainly looking forward to the clarity that the Prime Minister would have given to his own ministers in preparing a proper job description and being able to say at the end of the day, what actually matters to conclude that you have been successful or not,” he said.