Fri | Jun 22, 2018

Gov't waited too long to arrest crime in St James - Phillips

Published:Sunday | January 28, 2018 | 6:19 PM
Opposition Leader Dr peter Phillips

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips says the government waited too long to take definitive steps to arrest spiralling crime in St James, which is now under a state of public emergency. 

Speaking this afternoon to members of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the People's National Party (PNP) at the Vere Technical High School in Clarendon, Phillips said although the PNP supports the current state of public emergency in St James, he is questioning why the government did not declare the entire parish of St James a Zone of Special Operation instead of only Mount Salem. He says Mount Salem had only recorded a few murders up to the time it was declared a zone compared to many others in St James. 

Phillips' comments come against the background of the continuously rising murder rate, which has increased 17 per cent already this year, with more than 140 killings since January 1.

Last year, it increased 20 per cent over the previous year, with St James, the country's main tourism earner, experiencing 335 murders. 

The Opposition leader further asked why the powers under the Constabulary Force Act were not better used to cordon off areas and to conduct searches, as well as implement curfews in areas with high violence in order to restrict criminals' movement. 

He says the government could have also done a better job of boosting police morale by treating their wage negotiations separately from other public sector demands.

He says the state of the country's crime problems did not have to reach this level if other approaches had been considered for implementation.