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Common ground needed to fight crime - PM

Published:Sunday | April 29, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right) and Howard Chambers Jr, president of Young Jamaica, in discussion at the JLP youth arm's annual general meeting yesterday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says Jamaica has been in a state of emergency with murders and violence, guns, gangs and dons, for a very long time, and common ground is now needed to take on the country's most pressing problem.

Addressing the annual general meeting of the Jamaica Labour Party's youth organisation Young Jamaica yesterday, Holness said violence in Jamaica has taken on abnormal proportions and it requires a special political strength and unity to bring a semblance of normality to the situation.

"I think that in the overall plan to deal with crime, there has to be specifics to address the violence. That is what we are working on now," Holness told The Gleaner following the meeting.

"The plan that we are now implementing will deal with the capacity, that is the ability of the criminal-minded persons to commit a crime, and it will reduce the opportunity (they have) by controlling the spaces and the infrastructure that they use to commit crime," added Holness.

The prime minister said the propensity to commit grievous acts of violence for simple matters must also be addressed and policies to treat this issue will constitute the other part of the crime plan, which is now being formulated.

According to Holness, a comparative assessment of Jamaica's murder rate and that of countries gripped by civil wars is cause for concern.

"If you were to compare the murder rate of war-torn countries and Jamaica, you may be surprised to know that Jamaica's per-capita murder rate is much higher than many of those countries. You'd also be surprised to know that Jamaica's murder rate is higher than countries that are poorer than Jamaica, including Haiti and many African states," said Holness.

Calling it a "particular problem", the prime minister noted that Jamaica's crime problem was compounded by a propensity to use violence to resolve conflicts.