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Portmore community leaders speak out on crime

Published:Thursday | January 14, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Philip Hamilton, Gleaner Writer

( L - R) Winston Wright, Chairman Portmore Citizens' Advisory Council.
Fred Daley, representative of the Greater Portmore Joint Citizens' Association.
Merrick Scarlett, representative of the All Hellshire Leadership Council.
Devon Lazarus, representative of the Portmore Joint Citizens' Association. - Photos by Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

SEVERAL COMMUNITY leaders in Portmore recently voiced their concerns on the factors influencing crime in their communities at the recent Gleaner Editors' Forum at the Portmore Municipal Council's offices in St Catherine.

Devon Lazarus of the Greater Portmore Citizens' Association complained that most residents simply did not trust the police.

"You report something to the police and information comes back (to) the person that you passed on information," said Lazarus.

He said residents know the perpetrators who commit crimes in the community, but said many were reluctant to provide information to the police.

Young offenders

According to Lazarus, several offenders are youth who simply refuse to work, many of whom are illiterate.

"Seven out of 10 cannot read, so they are easily led. This is the major problem causing the crime," lamented Lazarus. "One will jump up and say, 'mi ah go do dis' and then everybody follows. They don't have a mind of their own and are easily led," he stressed.

Merrick Scarlett of the Hellshire Leadership Council believes segregation, due to political boundaries, has played a major role in influencing crime in his community.

He said the community, like Greater Portmore, did not trust the police. Nonetheless, residents were prepared to assist in curbing crime by monitoring and controlling the movements of vehicles entering the community.

Disturbed homeowners

Another Portmore resident, Fred Daley of the Greater Portmore Joint Citizens' Association said the incidence of crime in 3 East, a section of the community, had left homeowners disturbed. He is also concerned about what he said was a lack of police presence in the community.

"We're not feeling, the police like first time. Sometimes we have to go through the councillor to get the police and I don't think I should do that. We don't even see the bicycle police going round again," he complained.

Daley said it sometimes took as long as five hours for the police to respond to complaints about breaches of the Noise Abatement Act.

Meanwhile, Winston Wright, chairman of the Portmore Citizens' Advisory Council, proposed that schools introduce a programme of behaviour modification to capture the minds of schoolchildren.

Wright also encouraged the police to provide a greater presence in schools, plazas and the beaches.

Responding to the residents' concerns, Superintendent Marlon Nesbeth of the St Catherine South Police Division said the police had established systems of communication with members of the Portmore community and the public. He added that there were also manpower challenges.