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Crime fighting needs blended approach – MBCCI boss

Published:Friday | September 9, 2016 | 9:00 AMMark Titus

Western Bureau:

Gloria Henry, the outspoken president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), is calling for a new approach to crime-fighting in Jamaica as part of an overall bid to preserve foreign investments and even attract more investors to the island.

"Crime-fighting needs a new formula," said Henry, who has spearheaded several initiatives to reposition Montego Bay as a premier tourism destination. "I posit one that combines community renewal, the use of force, conflict-resolution strategies and poverty eradication, called a blended approach to crime fighting."

"The blended approach needs to provide greater resources to the law-enforcement officers and it needs to elevate the strategies to the use of more intelligence in crime-fighting," added Henry.

"This approach needs to be rolled out with force and fortitude," she continued. "It needs to target everyone ... parents whose children commit crime and parents whose children are not in school.

"It also needs to address the public interchange with members of the security forces and ensure that conflict resolution is included in the curriculum of the nation's educational institutions," she added.

GAINS EASILY ERODED

Henry, who is also vice president of operation at the Port Authority of Jamaica, with responsibility for the Montego Bay Free zone, further argued that the current strategies, which are heavily reliant on the police and use of force, are only returning marginal solutions which are easily eroded each time there are disputes among various factions.

St James, which is home to the nation's tourism capital Montego Bay - and the hub of what is now a robust business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, has seen more than 130 murders since the start of the year. The killings have left some stakeholders paralysed with fears while others have intimated that they are ready to pack up and leave.

Like Henry, businessman Davon Crump, who is also a former president of the MBCCI, believes the various anti-crime measures must be go hand in hand with an effective anti- corruption strategy.

"Speaking about corruption is likely to make one very unpopular or result in victimisation, but if governments are serious about fighting crime, this must be addressed," said Crump, "Too long have successive governments ignored their responsibility to act decisively, choosing (instead) to spend their time giving catchy sound bites or fancy headlines."