Mon | Jan 21, 2019

Letter of the Day | Two-pronged strategy to rein in crime

Published:Saturday | May 12, 2018 | 12:00 AM


Lately, there has been much discussion about the need for the Government to put together and publish a crime plan. The Government has responded by saying it has a crime plan, but it's not making its details public because criminal elements would likely adjust their activities to avoid being netted. I believe this position is grounded in sound logic.

However, given the repeated failure of the numerous past crime plans, one would have hoped that the Government would seek to do something radically different. The advent of the zones of special operations and the special anti-crime measures in Montego Bay and Spanish Town suggest that it is more of the same. These measures traditionally have had some dampening effect on the murder rate in the short term, but after a while, things revert to where there were, or very nearly so.

I would like to suggest a different kind of anti-crime plan that is simple in concept but would be complex and difficult in its implementation. It has two components - policing and socio-economics.

The tried and proven way to effectively reduce murders in the medium and long term is to have a well-trained, motivated, efficient police service that is highly proficient in the use of technology, forensics and modern investigative techniques to catch and prosecute murders. The removal of criminals from our midst and the fear of being caught are very effective ways of reducing crime. The first pillar of my anti-crime plan, therefore, is to establish a very good police service.

The difficulty will be overcoming the institutional resistance to change by those who have much to lose. Also, the question as to how to weed out the bad eggs is a sensitive subject for some, but not for me.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that more than 50 per cent of the service personnel in the current Jamaica Constabulary Force would be separated from their jobs if this was done effectively. I can't understand why it seems so difficult to fire corrupt cops in Jamaica. They can't be treated as ordinary employees because that is not what they are.


Social, economic development


Without a social and economic component to any anti-crime plan, the police will be severely challenged. Some of the complex areas that will have to deal with are education, family life, early social intervention, gainful employment, values and attitudes, among others.

There has been some discussion about the Singapore model; I prefer to believe that we have the capacity to develop a Jamaica model.

We have started to address the economic issues through an apparent consensus on the economy. This gives me hope that consensus can also be reached on how to deal with the social ills.