Sun | Apr 30, 2017

Jamaicans urged to ‘Unite For Change’ to fight crime

Published:Monday | September 21, 2015 | 9:00 AM
Peter Bunting

Minister of National Security Peter Bunting has been revving up the Unite for Change campaign, particularly in the rural parishes, where he has been calling for a more united effort in the fight against crime.

He emphasises that the approach has to be frontal and steadfast, where the criminals will realise that there is no safe haven from which to operate.

At a recent handing over ceremony for the Ocho Rios closed circuit television surveillance system, Bunting noted that even with the most effective of strategies, the security forces cannot work in isolation.

"It will take a united effort from the citizens of this country ... from communities across the island, to help in the fight against crime," he explained.

"This will take a whole society approach. We welcome the support from the community leaders, from the families, from the church. This is something we must all tackle together as a nation. This is what Unite for Change is all about," the minister said.

Taking the message into the western parishes over the past months, particularly St James, Trelawny, Hanover and Westmoreland, Bunting has been telling community leaders that they have to take the fight to the criminals, listing the lottery scam as the leading ill facing the region.

Launched on December 5, 2013, by the Ministry of National Security, the Unite for Change initiative is a national movement and public awareness campaign, aimed at "empowering each citizen to take back Jamaica from the clutches of criminal elements."

According to Bunting, it is also designed to "rekindle hope among Jamaicans and convince law-abiding citizens that they are not helpless, but can overcome the fear that has immobilised them, by working together as a united front against crime."

positive results

"We are seeing very positive results in some of the usually troubled hotspots as a result of communities working together," he said.

"We are definitely seeing a downward trend in some of the areas where crime had been traditionally high, and we want to take this approach where we can focus on individual communities and where we are expecting to see equally positive results," the minister said.

Police Commissioner, Dr Carl Williams, who was also at the handing over ceremony, said in volatile areas such as Spanish Town, the Unite for Change initiative has been bearing fruit.

"In Spanish Town we have been seeing what might once have been the unthinkable. The police there have reversed the crime rate by working with the citizens. This is something we want to see in other parts of the island, notably in the western region," said Williams.

For Seventh-day Adventist Pastor Glen Samuels, the church has a 'divine command' to tackle criminality and all forms of wrongdoing in all communities.

Speaking at the Western Jamaica Seventh-day Adventist Leadership Conference in Montego Bay on September 13, Samuels noted that the church took its role in national initiatives, such as Unite for Change, very seriously.

"We have a divine mandate to speak to the issues of our nation, to bring forth the leaders of our nation, and to challenge the people of our nation. We feel like ancient prophets and current spokespersons. We have to remind that it is righteousness that exalts a nation and sin is a reproach to any people," he said.

Bunting, who also spoke at the conference, reiterated that the "changing of attitudes is a major part of the Unite for Change campaign."

"When we talk of leadership, we oftentimes don't think of the courage that it takes in a community, at a school, in a family to call out those who are not being an appropriate example, not living the type of life consistent with the teachings of the church, of the Christian community," he added.