Holness reinforces collaborative effort needed to fight crime
PM joins Project STAR initiative on tour of Central Kingston
PRIME MINISTER Andrew Holness disclosed yesterday that the Government is ready to unveil the second phase of its national crime-fighting strategy.
The PM made the disclosure during a tour of Central Gardens in downtown Kingston, as part of the Project STAR social intervention programme.
For that phase, he said, child health and child development experts will have a critical role to play.
“We have had now, for the last two years, a committee that has been empanelled to develop a national strategy to deal with violence and it is the National Committee for the Prevention of Violence, headed by Professor [Maureen] Samms-Vaughan,” Holness said.
“It is a whole-of-society effort, where persons who are skilled in this area, persons who are academics and persons who understand this area, have been working in a collaborative effort to look at all the interventions that the Government already would have sponsored, to bring them together in a cohesive whole-of-government approach to treat with the other elements of the challenge, and that is violence, social and socio-emotional interactions,” he explained.
However, Holness did not go into specifics about how the committee would work or the communities it would target.
He declared that its crime-fighting strategy to date has focused heavily on technology and equipment for the security forces, noting that this investment was only half of the solution.
“The next phase of the Government’s crime fighting strategy is to treat with the centre, and the centre of the problem is the person. So we have to now invest heavily in the social support, our psychological and emotional support. We have to invest heavily in our crime prevention, in our youth involvement, in our community involvement, and you would have started to see … that we have been putting significant resources in for our young people for psychological and social emotional support. But we’re gonna take that a step further.”
The prime minister was on a tour of communities where Project STAR, the private sector-led social intervention programme, has been integrally involved in using sport, among other things, to foster positive changes and guide inner-city residents, especially the young, toward more progressive lifestyles.
Accompanied by Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang and Police Commissioner Antony Anderson, Holness first got a chance to interact with beneficiaries at the Calabar Infant, Primary and Junior High School, before going on to Kingston Technical High School, with the next legs of the tour taking them to Holy Family Primary School and a walk through the community, where he addressed residents.
He defended the effectiveness of zones of special operations (ZOSOs) and states of emergencies (SOEs) in forcing criminals to rethink how they operate in communities. However, he said more needs to be done.
“We can’t hold the space forever under security operations,” Holness said. “That’s not the solution. The solution is while we have created the space, we have to get the parents to come out and take responsibility for their children, which is why I am so pleased to hear about the efforts in parenting under Project STAR.
Meanwhile, with men and boys being main perpetrators as well as victims of crime – responsible for 90 per cent of murders and other major crimes – they will require special attention, according to the prime minister.
“There has to be in the general policy a focus on our young men, particularly those 16-24 (years), and so I am happy to see that Project Star has made some interventions,” Holness observed.
“It is important that the nation understands that while we do pursue hard-policing strategies and policies, that there is the side that treats with the socio-emotional regulation of the people in the community to acknowledge that there are challenges,” he added.