Letters to the Editor

Somebody wants crime around; study it!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

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Dear Editor,

Sometimes I have to wonder if our leaders are really serious about crime reduction/prevention. I say this against the background of a plethora of studies on the causes of crime and how it can be prevented and or reduced. I can therefore conclude that our leaders know the causes of crime and how it should be addressed. I can further conclude that it is therefore a lack of will to implement the measures, or the economic benefits of crime far outweigh the will to curb crime. As a community activist once said, if we drastically reduce crime some people will go broke.

Since our Independence, there has been an upward trajectory of our crime statistics, which include murder, rape, robbery, and other violent crimes against women and children. It is frightening to hear from the very leaders of our police force that 15 out of their 19 divisions have seen an increase in murder. At a recent crime forum it was noted that crime eats out 3-5 per cent of our GDP and greatly reduces the human stock of our productive workforce. So what is preventing our leaders from taking crime by the crook of the neck.

I was so moved by Prime Minister Andrew Holness's speech during the run-up to the last general election when he said that once elected, he commits to the Jamaican people that they can sleep with their doors open and wake up in the morning alive .But to the contrary, since his election we have seen a 26 per cent rise in murders. Did Holness underestimate the gravity of our crime problem or was it just campaign rhetoric?

Yes, we have seen the zones of special operations initiative of the Jamaica Labour Party Government, but right outside the periphery of the zones, criminals have been killing people left, right and centre, as in the case of St James.

We therefore have to look seriously at the question of who are the ones benefiting from the crime surge. This is a factor worth studying, because it may reveal some interesting findings.

It leaves us to ask: Why it is easier for gangs to recruit young teenagers than for skills training centres to recruit them? Why is the gun so easy to reach the hands of a poor inner-city youth, although his/her financial capacity does not allow him to own such a weapon? Why are perpetrators of criminal activities so hard to apprehend and be brought to justice? Why is it that, apart from former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, our political leaders cannot and have not publicly given the names of perpetrators of violence in their constituencies? Why does there continue to be a culture of silence among our citizens when it comes to violent crimes? Why does there continue to be an underfunded criminal justice system?

Well, in this culture of silence, the answer is “mum is the word”.

Fernandez Smith





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