Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Letter of the Day | Why the shortage of JPs?

Published:Monday | October 24, 2016 | 12:00 AM


The concerns about justices of the peace (JPs) have made their annual appearance. Again, persons lament the shortage of JPs, and again they condemn those who are charging for their services and claiming to know strangers. There is now another question as to whether they should be paid.

Why is there a shortage of JPs? Is this an honour bestowed on persons for services rendered, or is it an assignment for persons who would feel honoured to serve?

Most of the JPs I know live in exclusive areas with large dogs behind tall gates. Apart from their domestic staff, their contact with ordinary Jamaicans is limited to when they attend an event at the stadium.

When I was a youngster, a popular local politician visited my mother's office and asked her to sign documents. He expressed shock and alarm when she said she was not a JP and promised to "correct this mistake right away". "In the meantime," he advised - sotto voce - that she "join the party right away". Never a joiner, my poor mother went to her grave JP-less.

There are thousands of teachers, pastors, policemen, nurses and social workers - active and retired - who are able and willing to perform this service. They know the people and the people know them. Their basic training and professional experience enable them to respond well to any additional training a JP receives. I am not a bright person, so I refuse to believe that this has not entered the minds of all those luminaries we see in the news daily. Why is there a shortage of JPs?




Demanding that citizens perform a function but limiting the opportunities so to do is what spawns corruption. Can anyone imagine the chaos that would overtake this country without corruption?

My snooping reveals that it is these 'commercial' JPs who are preventing a total breakdown of that system. They can be reached at anytime to do anything for anyone. This would not be the case if everyone knew two or three JPs. The work of any one JP would be so significantly reduced, the question of salaries would be a non-issue.

Can we ask these bright sparks in lofty positions to apply a little logic to these 'problems' from time to time?


Stony Hill, St Andrew