Mur­der mad­ness

Ja­maica av­er­ag­ing 100 homi­cides monthly

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Livern Bar­rett Se­nior Gleaner Writer

JA­MAICA IS on the verge of record­ing 900 mur­ders since the start of the year, with just over three months still re­main­ing.

Po­lice data ob­tained by The Gleaner show that up to yes­ter­day, 893 per­sons were re­ported mur­dered across the 19 po­lice di­vi­sions is­land­wide since Jan­uary 1. This is just over one per cent more than the 882 killings recorded for the cor­re­spon­dent pe­riod last year.

Ac­cord­ing to the data, Ja­maica is av­er­ag­ing al­most 100 mur­ders each month, or just over three per day.

Sta­tis­tics also show that 184 of the 893 mur­ders this year were recorded in St James, putting the par­ish on the brink of record­ing more than 200 mur­ders in a cal­en­dar year for a sec­ond straight year. Last year, the St James po­lice recorded just over 205 mur­ders.

The es­ca­lat­ing crime rate has not es­caped the at­ten­tion of pri­vate-sec­tor lead­ers and mem­bers of the Eco­nomic Growth Coun­cil (EGC), the body ap­pointed by Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness to help spur eco­nomic growth.

The EGC, in a re­port to sent to Cabi­net last week, out­lined a num­ber of growth-in­duc­ing mea­sures, along with spe­cific pol­icy pro­pos­als to boost the econ­omy, and sin­gled out the coun­try’s crime prob­lem as a ma­jor con­cern.

“Im­prov­ing cit­i­zen se­cu­rity is the most con­se­quen­tial growth-in­duc­ing re­form that Ja­maica can un­der­take. Ja­maicans need to ex­pe­ri­ence dra­mat­i­cally im­proved lev­els of se­cu­rity and feel­ings of per­sonal safety,” the EGC sug­gested in a state­ment to the me­dia.

How­ever, the Michael LeeChin-led coun­cil, which is seek­ing to grow the Ja­maican econ­omy by five per cent in four years, has cau­tioned that im­proved cit­i­zen se­cu­rity will re­quire dras­tic, sys­temic re­forms across sev­eral plat­forms, in­clud­ing the ju­di­ciary and the po­lice force.

“Piece­meal, knee-jerk re­sponses that lack depth and per­spec­tive are un­likely to im­prove out­comes. It re­quires a com­pre­hen­sive ap­proach en­com­pass­ing ju­di­cial and

po­lice re­form, while also ad­dress­ing en­trenched prob­lems of so­cial ex­clu­sion among other mea­sures,” the EGC un­der­scored.

Metry Seaga, pres­i­dent of the Ja­maica Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (JMA), and Paul ‘PB’ Scott, head of the Pri­vate Sec­tor Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Ja­maica (PSOJ), agreed.

“The prob­lems are sys­temic. They are sys­tems within the [po­lice] force, they are sys­tems within the jus­tice sys­tem, and un­til we can get those prob­lems ironed out, acts changed, reg­u­la­tions changed and good man­age­ment sys­tems in both jus­tice [the courts], and the JCF we wast­ing time,” Seaga said.

“And the truth is we have got to get it fixed if we are to do any­thing in this coun­try about growth,” he added.

He ar­gued that suc­ces­sive ad­min­is­tra­tions have not ap­proached the task of tack­ling the decades-old crime prob­lem “from the ground up”.

“I don’t think we have ever looked at the sys­tem and the man­age­ment of the sys­tem ... and I don’t think that we have ever looked at the jus­tice com­po­nent of the prob­lem in a real way as it re­lates to crime. I feel that what the Eco­nomic Growth Coun­cil is com­ing out with, hope­fully sooner rather than later, will be a road map to us mov­ing for­ward and get­ting the prob­lems fixed,” he as­serted.

Scott told The Gleaner that the es­ca­lat­ing crime rate was hav­ing a “mas­sive im­pact” on mem­bers of the pri­vate sec­tor. “It’s very, very sig­nif­i­cant and it is an im­ped­i­ment to eco­nomic growth,” he ob­served.



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