Mon | Dec 17, 2018

More ZOSOs needed - Expert urges broadening of crime strategy; wants more emphasis on 'build' phase

Published:Friday | December 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Professor Anthony Clayton

One of the country's leading experts on crime, Professor Anthony Clayton, has recommended a broader reach of the enhanced security measures now in effect in some areas across the country, to further reduce crime and violence.

However, he would prefer more emphasis placed on the touted 'build' phase of the zone of special operation (ZOSO) initiative, to turn around communities folding under the pressure of crime and violence.

Professor Clayton, speaking at a public forum on 'Crime & Productivity: The Impact of Electricity Theft' held at the University of the West Indies Regional headquarters in St Andrew earlier this week, acknowledged the reduction in murders so far this year, compared to last year, but stressed that more work was needed for further decrease.

"Since the beginning of the year, serious and violent crimes are down by 20 per cent in this country and that is very largely attributable to the ZOSO and the state of public emergencies," he said.

"But they are in just two to four very limited areas. If we were to take activities like these and scale them up, you could actually do much more to really transform the situation of this country."

 

COULD BE SHORT-LIVED

 

Noting that some 200,000 households islandwide are stealing electricity, the university professor argued that children who grow up in communities where there was rampant theft of electricity could not be expected to turn out as decent human beings, and, in fact, could turn out to be perpetrators of crime.

This is why he fears that if the 'build' phase of the enhance security measures do not set in to reverse some of the bad practises in the culture of some of the most affected communities, the reduction in crime could be short-lived.

He underscored that the 'build' phases in these types of operations have proven to be the determining factor in turning around depressed communities for the better.

"This is where you fix the schools, you fix the community, the street lights, the road, the water, you fix the power supply and you re-engineer the culture," stressed Clayton.

But he noted: "This is not something that can be done in 90 days."

Professor Clayton said in other countries where similar measures are implemented, they run for a lengthy 25 years to force a culture shift.

"And so, my fear is we are not doing very well; we are not doing the 'build' part and the success or failure of these programmes rest entirely on whether we change the culture, change the infrastructure, change how people think, change how they live, and that can only be done over a generation," he said.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com