Sat | Jun 25, 2022

Balance spending between crime fighting and social intervention

Published:Tuesday | June 21, 2022 | 12:07 AM


I am writing this letter with reference to the article, ‘Police force upgrade would have squashed violent crimes’, which was published in The Gleaner on June 18.

The national security minister Dr Horace Chang has no reason to regret “that Jamaica’s crime rate could have been far lower if half the $387 billion spent on social-invention programmes between 2007 and 2018 had been channelled into upgrading the police instead”.

The crime rate would not be lower, because there was a shift in the way the funds were allocated among the law enforcement and social intervention programmes.

However, according to the Inter-American Development Bank 2014 data, crime costs Jamaica 4.0 per cent of the gross domestic product, or $100 billion.

So, it is hard for the minister to significantly sustain the levels of violent crimes and the costs spent to deter them. This is because the US should help Jamaica to put a stop to the illegal gun trade.

For example, Jamaican authorities and the New York Times estimated that 200 illegal guns are “smuggled into the country every month from the United States”. This means the illegal gun trade continues, and it does not seem that the US is doing anything to help Jamaica to put a stop to it.

Jamaica has 145 unofficial ports, and the illegal guns are channelled through them into the island. On June 1, 2018, The Gleaner quoted a 2016 report which said that, “70 per cent of guns seized in Jamaica in 2016 sourced in US”, which shows that this has been happening for a while.

So it is literally impossible to stop and reverse the levels of violent crimes in an effective manner till the broader issues at hand are addressed.