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PSOJ boss wants Gov’t and Opposition to forge alliance to solve crime

Published:Friday | June 28, 2019 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer


President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Howard Mitchell, says it is way past time for the Government and Opposition to fully engage civil society to comprehensively discuss the root causes of crime in the country.

Speaking at a presidents’ forum on climate change at the Jewel Grande in Montego Bay on Wednesday, Mitchell said that in order to place the country on a path of mature national development, fulsome discussions must be urgently undertaken to devise methodologies and long-term solutions to meet national challenges and reduce the murder rate, violent and indisciplined behaviours, and corruption.

“Call it what you will – a crime summit, the Vale Royal Talks, a violence commission – I don’t care. But for God’s sake, let us address these issues together,” Mitchell declared.

“We are not asking to know the details of a crime plan, but we want to know that one exists. We are not asking to be involved in operational decision-making, but we in the private sector, the market, want to align our efforts to reduce the economic marginalisation in the society with the efforts of the security forces,” he added.

Likening crime to a disaster, he said that over the last two decades, the national responses to wrongdoing have only involved the State and its agents, “while the market and the community sat back and waited for results, doing very little to contribute and, in some instances, tolerating individual members taking advantage of the unusual environment created by the focus of the state on reducing crime to profit through loopholes of state inattention”.

Plans for expansion

Mitchell said that in developing plans for expansion of commercial developments, the private sector also needs to know that those plans are in line with the Government’s policies.

“So we, in the civil-society community, have stood by and done very little as standards fail, as the sidewalks become crowded with illegal vendors, the streets are overcome with robot taxis and itinerant hustlers, and our markets become staging areas for drug dealing and vectors for contagious illnesses. ‘Let the Government deal with it’ has been the cry,” he stated.

“Well, it has become apparent that the Government cannot deal with it effectively, and without the active support of civil society, measures taken by the State will not only not have long-term viability ... but have the potential for distortion of the intended effect and the creation of a hardcore criminal gang society,” he added.