MPs, cops ac­count­able for anti-gang law fail­ure

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION&COMMENTARY -

ITHE EDI­TOR, Sir: N 2014, the Crim­i­nal Jus­tice (Sup­pres­sion of Crim­i­nal Or­ga­ni­za­tions) Act, pop­u­larly called the anti-gang leg­is­la­tion, was passed into law on the premise of be­ing the tool the po­lice force needed to dis­man­tle the es­ti­mated 300 crim­i­nal gangs re­spon­si­ble for a high percentage of Ja­maica’s mur­ders.

Our leg­is­la­tors on both sides of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide fully sup­ported this law and en­dorsed it as the per­fect so­lu­tion the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force (JCF) could use to rid the coun­try of these gangs and sub­stan­tially re­duce mur­ders and other se­ri­ous crimes.

IN­EF­FEC­TIVE LEG­IS­LA­TION

How­ever, in hind­sight, it is quite clear that this leg­is­la­tion has proved in­ef­fec­tive and use­less. Ac­cord­ingly, the law­mak­ers who sup­ported the bill, and the JCF, which is re­spon­si­ble for en­forc­ing it, should be held ac­count­able for the fail­ure of this leg­is­la­tion to bring about the an­tic­i­pated re­duc­tion in gang ac­tiv­i­ties and the as­so­ci­ated mur­der rate.

In 2015, the me­dia re­ported that the po­lice ex­pected 500 peo­ple to face crim­i­nal charges un­der the Crim­i­nal Jus­tice (Sup­pres­sion of Crim­i­nal Or­ga­ni­za­tion) Act, or the anti-gang law. This re­port sug­gested that the po­lice had suf­fi­cient in­tel­li­gence to pros­e­cute this num­ber of peo­ple and that its in­ten­tion to fol­low through was a no­ble ob­jec­tive.

How­ever, based on the po­lice force’s fail­ure to achieve this ob­jec­tive, it ap­pears that ‘500’ was a num­ber plucked from some­where for a grand an­nounce­ment that had no sub­stance or real­ity. Five hun­dred peo­ple did not face crim­i­nal charges in 2015 un­der the anti-gang law.

WHAT IS THE REAL TRUTH?

One is left to won­der whether there are 300 crim­i­nal gangs in Ja­maica or whether the JCF has a clue as to the num­ber of crim­i­nal gangs in Ja­maica. If one ac­cepts that there are likely to be at least five mem­bers per gang, the num­ber of gang mem­bers should be a min­i­mum of 1,500. If this is an ac­cu­rate fig­ure, we can jus­ti­fi­ably ask how many of these gang­sters have been ar­rested and, more im­por­tant still, over the past three years, which gangs have the JCF been able to pen­e­trate or dis­man­tle?

What is the real truth re­gard­ing crim­i­nal gangs in Ja­maica? Cer­tainly, it must be eas­ier to ob­tain in­tel­li­gence on crim­i­nal gangs than on in­di­vid­ual gun­men? Is it not time for our leg­is­la­tors to re­view the anti-gang leg­is­la­tion to de­ter­mine its use­ful­ness or ef­fec­tive­ness? Or is the fail­ing en­tirely that of the JCF? AL­LAN DOU­GLAS all­dou­glas@aol.com

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