NATIONAL SECURITY Minister Peter Bunting says some major stakeholders in the society appear to be more enthused to criticise tough anti-crime bills than to support social intervention programmes.
"I am disappointed that in our effort to engage wider society around those social interventions and to engage NGOs, the private sector and the church, there has not been the same enthusiasm to participate and get involved as there seems to be to criticise the anti-gang bill and other pieces of legislation," declared Bunting last week.
His comments were made after the Norman Manley Law School made a submission to the Joint Select Committee of Parliament, which is considering the anti-gang bill.
The law school stopped just short of describing the bill as unnecessary and called for the Government to create opportunities and training for the nation's youths.
Nancy Anderson, who presented on behalf of the law school, told the committee that suppression strategies should be the avenues of last resort in dealing with gangs and criminal organisations.
"While many may feel that the bill is necessary, it is hoped that the other avenues to deal effectively with organised criminal organisations are also instituted with similar prominence," Anderson said.
But Delroy Chuck, the opposition spokesman on national security and justice, said Jamaicans should perish the thought that social intervention programmes are enough to cure the country of criminality.
"It nuh work," said Chuck.
"I have heard it from persons who believe that the problem of crime is a social one and if you put in enough social reform and enough social intervention you can curb the crime problem. It nuh work," added Chuck.
Social intervention needed
The opposition spokesman agreed with committee chairman Bunting that the approach to crime fighting has to be a multi-dimensional one.
Said Chuck: "I am not saying social intervention should not be done; it must be done."
"But at the same time, we can send a strong signal, especially to the area dons, that if they try to recruit members into gang warfare we are going to lock you up.
"And send a message to sisters and mothers and girlfriends that if you don't keep your young men out of gangs, you will have to visit them in prisons rather than at their homes then we are not going to solve some of the major conflicts in the inner-city communities."
Meanwhile, Bunting said the anti-gang bill is not to be seen as the principal type of crime-fighting intervention.
He said the bill is one aspect of crime control.
According to Bunting, it is the policy of the Government to focus on crime prevention, a major component of which is social intervention.
"We are not at any odds with yourself or any other groups that have made submissions that for sustainable success in the medium term, those (social intervention strategies) are critically important," the national security minister said.