JMA calls on Gov't, Opposition to work together in crime fight

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

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THE Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) has again urged the Government and Opposition to join forces on an effective crime strategy with clear targets to which public officials can be held accountable.

The renewed call comes just over a week after police crime statistics compiled up to the week ending December 30 revealed that the country's murder toll stood at 1,612 — close to 90 more than the 1,526 which it was estimated that homicides would settle at by the end of 2017. It was also 263 more murders than the similar period of 2016, according to data compiled by the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Statistics and Information Management Unit, which were obtained by the Jamaica Observer.

And less than two weeks into 2018, the number of murders has already reached double figures.

“The rising crime levels, in particular murder, weakened institutions, and a breakdown in social norms are leaving the people of Jamaica feeling powerless and insecure. It is the belief of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association that if we are serious about crime and have the political will to cut crime, we can. What is necessary is decisive action and a clear direction which has social and political consensus,” the JMA said in a release yesterday.

The association argued, too, that lawlessness and rising crime are undermining the quality of life for Jamaicans and the Government's own 2030 vision for the country as the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business. “We are all impacted, especially the poor and vulnerable with limited options, as well as the well-off. The fact is, disorder and violence have become the fabric of our daily lives,” the group said.

The association said that fundamental problems at the heart of the criminal justice system must be addressed, such as resourcing, culture and productivity. “Our institutions, including our teachers, police, the courts and the prisons, continue to bear the brunt of these failures. The time is now to rebuild respect and restore law and order — if not, all the macro-economic gains and sacrifices made as a country will have been for nothing.”

According to the police, shootings stood at 1,469 for the review period, up from 1,220 for the similar period of 2016, while rape moved down from 523 to 442, and aggravated assault from 464 to 411. Robberies declined from 1,426 to 1242, and break-ins from 1,307 to 1,167. Meanwhile, a total of 600 motor vehicles (including motorbikes) were stolen, 16 less than the previous period. The police also seized 21,764 firearms and ammunition compared to 8,671 for the similar period of 2016 and made 10,918 arrests, just over 160 more than the similar review period in 2016.

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