Trust issues in society mount challenge to Crime Stop’s efforts
Despite giving Crime Stop Jamaica (CSJ) hundreds of tips per year, many Jamaicans are still unwilling to step forward to ensure that those tips materialise into convictions.
Since the start of the year, CSJ has received 723 tips, with a success rate of one in six.
Speaking at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum on Thursday, CSJ Chairperson Sandra Glasgow said that despite the organisation recording tremendous success over the years, a culture of fear is still hindering persons from coming forward with information.
“We have got thousands of tips over our 30 years of existence, and when I see reports in the USA about snitches, it’s an unfortunate aspect of our culture,” Glasgow said, “but we can’t get away from the fact that it exists and people are afraid to share information.
“We have a very low-trust society. The studies have shown that, and that, I think, is at the heart of it. So Crime Stop continues to appeal to citizens, and we have lots of channels to try to get to people to convince them that crime affects everybody, and that they should tell, and that nobody has ever been compromised, and you can get money from it,” she added.
CONVERTING TIPS TO STRONG LEADS
CSJ Manager Prudence Gentles added that while the organisations received tips, the difficulty sometimes lies in converting that information into strong leads.
“People know who these criminals are, but it’s one thing to say, ‘I know that it is John Brown’, but how can the police convert that into an arrest and charge? They have to have evidence, and people have to be willing to come forward, and that’s another part of the bigger problem,” said Gentles.
Director of CSJ Brian Schmidt said another important factor is the nature of the neighbourhoods and communities in which people live.
“For instance, someone might want to walk into a police station and give the information, but if you live in Community X and there is an incident in Community X, that’s the police station you need to report to, and the mere fact that you walk in there and you have not had an incident against you, personally, it has raised a flag to people, so there’s more to people’s reticence than just what we like to think, and that’s just a very real thing,” said Schmidt.
Assistant Commissioner of Police McArthur Sutherland, who was also one of the guests at the forum, said that despite the fact that it is often said that people don’t trust the police, the public and the police do share a good relationship and there are persons who do trust and communicate with them.