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New commish must focus on root causes of crime - Clayton

Published:Friday | January 6, 2017 | 12:00 AMJason Cross

For the next police commissioner to reap any kind of success at reducing crime, University of the West Indies Sustainable Development Professor Anthony Clayton strongly feels that he or she will need to implement comprehensive strategies that not only focus on fixing crime, but also on the root causes.

Clayton stressed that the new commissioner will have to take a front and centre approach to crime-fighting, but that help is needed from the Government to make the efforts of the police more lasting and impactful.

"The only strategy that has ever helped in terms of fundamentally resolving the problems of crime is when you have what is called a 'whole government approach'. You don't just go into a troubled community and chase down a few bad guys and then withdraw. The problems will just recur. You have to go in with the goal of bringing about a fundamental transformation in that community."

"The commissioner has to play a front and centre leading role in this, but the commissioner cannot do this unaided. The Government has to back the police with this 'whole government approach', so that all aspects of the problems are addressed and fixed at the same time," stated Clayton.

Clayton feels that the new police commissioner needs to devise a comprehensive strategy for addressing both crime and the root causes of crime, which should see the police being protectors of communities, and bit by bit building the trust with residents.


Isolate hard core criminals


"This way, they will be able to isolate hard core criminals and men of violence who have done harm. They have to win the hearts of the communities to keep the peace. While they are there keeping the peace, then the rest of Government comes in, the Ministry of Health comes in with programmes to improve the health of the people, the Ministry of Education fixes the schools in that area, and the Ministry of Works fixes the roads in that area."

He continued: "They have to win the hearts and minds of the communities if we are going to win this war. You can arrest bad guys, but you also need to look at the problems, the weaknesses in society that result in so many people seeing crime as the best opportunity."

Yesterday was the last day Dr Carl Williams served as police commissioner. Deputy Commissioner Novelette Grant is acting as commissioner for 90 days, a period during which the selection process for a new commissioner will be ongoing.