‘Business sector aloof in fighting crime’ – Smith
Lloyd B. Smith, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Central St James, wants Montego Bay's business community to become more proactive in the fight against crime, especially in light of the recent spike in murders in the St James police division.
"It is no secret that to some extent, the business community has remained aloof from this particular problem in the sense that, because tourism is the major economic activity and there have been no major incursions into that sector by the criminal elements, we have (become) somewhat laid-back," Smith said.
The government MP was addressing a Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry stakeholders meeting on Thursday.
"The time has come when everybody in the wider Montego Bay community must get involved because it is only a matter of time before this scourge of criminality spreads its wings," Smith continued.
"The criminals themselves have developed their own modus operandi and are gradually seeking to take over the commanding heights of the society. Against this background, we have to look at this thing as us against them."
St James has been a hotbed of criminal activity with the Police High Command saying it is chiefly responsible for the spike in murders this year.
President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry Gloria Henry said that the Chamber will be partnering with the University of the West Indies (UWI), to play a proactive role in crime and violence prevention.
"We, as a chamber, have taken the proactive approach of looking to do an empirical study, and we have asked UWI to assist us in conducting that study, so we can look at how we can address some of those root causes that lead to criminal activities in St James," Henry said.
"Hopefully, when we get that study, we will be better able to work with the Ministry of National Security and the local command (police)."
"Murders, and the negative connotations that are associated with that, are of serious concern to the Chamber of Commerce and the business community of Montego Bay, and also the citizens. We are in the process of attracting additional foreign direct investments, and we cannot afford for anymore labels to be attached to St James," Henry continued.
"It is for that reason that we want to move swiftly to cauterise the ballooning murder rate in the parish."