En­gage crime sum­mit for so­lu­tions

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

THE EDI­TOR, Sir: I FIND it ab­hor­rent that some 21 per cent of mur­ders com­mit­ted in Ja­maica take place in St James, a parish reg­is­ter­ing a fre­quency of 144 mur­ders per 100,000 of the pop­u­la­tion year-to-date.

This is scary and brings to mind places like Kosovo some years back. The only thing dif­fer­ent re­ally is that there is no de­clared civil war here. We are in­debted to Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party na­tional se­cu­rity spokesman Peter Bunt­ing for these fig­ures, which pref­aced his call for a high-level stake­holder sum­mit on crime.

The late Nige­rian au­thor, Chinua Achebe, immortalised the state­ment “Things fall apart; the cen­tre can­not hold.” This is clearly the case now in Ja­maica, as there is a press­ing need for all stake­hold­ers to meet and de­velop last­ing so­lu­tions to the wave of vi­o­lence in western Ja­maica and, in­deed, na­tion­ally, for the sim­ple rea­son that ev­ery­thing is in­deed con­nected.

Crime, par­tic­u­larly mur­der, af­fects ev­ery­one and ev­ery­thing. It im­pacts the econ­omy neg­a­tively by dis­cour­ag­ing in­vest­ments, scares away tourists, and, at the street level, re­duces pur­chases, as shop­pers re­strict their ac­tiv­ity to buy­ing basics. It re­duces pro­duc­tiv­ity, as work­ers stay away from work; ed­u­ca­tion, as chil­dren are kept home by fear­ful par­ents; and trans­porta­tion, as taxi driv­ers cut their work­ing hours.

Crime has com­plex so­ci­o­log­i­cal, cul­tural and eco­nomic roots. Think of the lead char­ac­ter Ivan in the clas­sic Ja­maican movie The Harder They Come; but it is also un­der­pinned by a fa­cil­i­tat­ing for­mal struc­ture, in­clud­ing many who should know bet­ter.

Tourism, as the sec­ond­high­est earner of for­eign ex­change in Ja­maica be­hind re­mit­tances, is crit­i­cal to our ex­is­tence, yet it is very sen­si­tive. A few bad re­ports in the for­eign press or even in so­cial me­dia can re­sult in overnight can­cel­la­tions of ho­tel book­ings.

We have been down this road be­fore in Ja­maica and it was not pretty.

So let us have this stake­hold­ers meet­ing so that ev­ery­one can bring their per­spec­tives and ideas to the ta­ble to de­velop an ac­tual tar­get-spe­cific plan once and for all. HOWARD HUGESCHEG howard­hugh­escheg@gmail.com Santa Cruz, St El­iz­a­beth

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