Hol­ness weak on curb­ing crime wave

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

THE ED­I­TOR, Sir: AS JA­MAICA’S crime rate con­tin­ues to sky­rocket and the char­ac­ter of th­ese mur­ders get more heinous and ter­ror­is­tic, with chil­dren, the el­derly, and women being tar­gets, I am ex­tremely con­cerned that the most our prime min­is­ter, An­drew Hol­ness, can of­fer to re­as­sure cit­i­zens is that the Gov­ern­ment is “fairly ad­vanced” in de­vel­op­ing a strate­gic anti-crime ac­tion plan.

This was the same An­drew Hol­ness who trum­peted that when his Ja­maica Labour Party (JLP) be­came the gov­ern­ment, Ja­maicans could be­gin to sleep with “your doors open”. Un­for­tu­nately, the re­verse has hap­pened as mur­ders are rapidly in­creas­ing and many com­mu­ni­ties take on the char­ac­ter of ghost towns after dark as peo­ple hurry home to lock up and bat­ten down as if threat­ened by an ever-present hur­ri­cane.

In Op­po­si­tion, Hol­ness reg­u­larly tweeted mur­der up­dates and lam­basted the for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity min­is­ter, Peter Bunting, de­spite the game-chang­ing anti-crime ini­tia­tives Bunting in­tro­duced and his sig­nif­i­cant in­roads in ad­dress­ing so­cial fac­tors that drive crime through ini­tia­tives such as Unite For Change, a part­ner­ship that focused on unit­ing com­mu­ni­ties and in­volved cit­i­zens and the Church, among other groups.

AC­CEP­TANCE

Hol­ness now be­lat­edly ac­cepts that there is no switch to turn off crime. Well, hello, Colum­bus! The av­er­age num­ber of mur­ders per year for the four-year pe­riod from 2008 to 2011 un­der the JLP was 1,470, as com­pared to an av­er­age of 1,127 (or 342 fewer mur­ders per year) for the four-year pe­riod from 2012 to 2015 when Bunting was se­cu­rity min­is­ter.

In fact, the av­er­age year of the past PNP gov­ern­ment had a lower num­ber of mur­ders than the best year of the pre­vi­ous JLP gov­ern­ment.

But while Em­peror An­drew fid­dles, Ja­maica burns. In St James alone, there is a fre­quency of 144 mur­ders per 100,000 of the pop­u­la­tion this year to date.

Crime, in­clud­ing mur­der, has also mush­roomed in Claren­don, West­more­land, and St Cather­ine this year, and re­ports in­di­cate a ris­ing tide of crimes like house­break­ing, which had been mov­ing steadily down­wards in re­cent years.

More than ever, Ja­maica needs a col­lab­o­ra­tion of all the stake­hold­ers to fight crime. We need to adopt the best prac­tices suc­cess­fully in­tro­duced by Bunting such as in­creas­ing the use of tech­nol­ogy, in­tel­li­gence and the mo­bil­ity of the force.

What Ja­maica needs now is re­sults, not dither­ing and lame ex­cuses. MARK BROWN bmark6173@gmail.com St Cather­ine

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