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Fed up! - Citizens angry about excessive fancy talk on crime that produces no results

Published:Tuesday | June 20, 2017 | 12:00 AMJason Cross
Anthropologist Dr Herbert Gayle.

Citizens who turned out on Monday for the launch of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute's (CaPRI) two-year project, designed to address national security issues, did not hesitate to direct their frustration about crime at a panel that included local anthropologist Dr Herbert Gayle.

Persons in attendance stressed that the information they were being provided with was nothing new, and they were strident in their demand for action.

'Collaborating to Transform Citizen Security A Yaard' is the theme of the project, which is a collaborative effort between CaPRI and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, which will see various bits of research being conducted on a wide range of crime-related topics.

After listening to Gayle and the other members of the panel, the audience voiced their concern that far too much talk takes place in Jamaica on issues, with no serious action following.




"I understand that everybody is knowledgeable and has the data at hand as to what's happening regarding crime in our country. But what happens with the data?" an angry Tatania Clarke asked the panel at the Spanish Court Hotel in

St Andrew.

"Now that we have decided that this is what is happening to our country, then what's the next step? I appreciate the data. However, I am a little confused, because I want to know what the next step is. A lot of this data has been coming a far way. It is not 2017 information that we have been receiving. Please, as citizens, we want to know the next step," Clarke declared.

Since the start of the year, roughly 670 persons have been murdered, and the projection is that it will get worse, if research findings are not acted upon quickly.

"We are very good at storytelling. We tell stories about experience, but what do we learn from it, and what do we do with it? What do we do with all this data collection that we have, in order to produce results?" asked one man boldly.

He continued: "What we are seeing right now is a serious deterioration in the rule of law. What is being done to arrest that deterioration and turn things around? Let's get to that point. Stop telling us stories. We know about it because we are all suffering from it. Let's, instead, look at what is being done."

Heru Ishakamusa Menelik, a representative from the Marcus Garvey Institute, stated that unequal wealth distribution in Jamaica causes a major part of the problem, and the powers that be have not seen it fit to address those issues.

"From 1992, we have had the task force on crime report, and what that said is that we must deal with people. A gun will not kill. It is the mind that controls the persons who kill. We need more rehabilitation work. We need more education. What are we doing to keep the youths in school and to help people find living areas instead of using squatter settlements? We have a problem with integrational wealth, where one set of the society has wealth and the other doesn't have it. Crime is inversely proportional to the distribution of wealth in any country. Until we satisfy that, crime will continue to escalate."


'We're putting data to good use'


Rushing to put a stop to the preconceived notion that platforms similar to this one produce no results, director of the Research and Evaluation Unit within the Ministry of National Security, Dr Grace Ann Cornwall, argued that data gathered were usually put to good use.

"Where the Ministry of National Security is concerned, this data that we have is fed across various entities," she said.

"The fact that Miss (Lisa-Gay) Greene is able to make this kind of presentation and use the type of technology, it speaks to the fact that we are harnessing and we are working with the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) in terms of how our resources are deployed in this country to fight crime and violence in a very specific way," she added.

"... It means, where it is that we conduct our stop-and-searches, it means how much we spend on various areas in our security as it relates to narcotics or guns. What this means is that in a very structured way, we are able to provide the opportunities for these people," she stressed.

Earlier, Green, senior project manager at the Mona Geoinfomatics, had made her presentation to group.