Jamaica’s Crime Crisis: No Crime Plan from the People’s National Party?

Jamaica in a State of Anomie. Neither Party has a Crime Plan

Where does the People’s National Party stand on its proposed techniques for addressing the nation’s surging crime rates? Empty rhetoric is backtracking. Jamaica can ill-afford more of the same. It is only the naive who don’t instantly question when a person with nothing to offer pledges elaborate gifts. Consider this excerpt from The Sunday Gleaner of July 2, 2023: “In light of growing social disparities fueled by the Government’s recent law enforcement policies review, Mark Golding has pledged that an incoming People’s National Party (PNP) Government would analyze the system and devise means to eliminate the disparity between the privileged and the less fortunate.” However, in the report Golding failed to provide a modicum of detail on the actual strategies the PNP would employ if elected to the helm of Jamaica House.

The crime rate has surged exponentially since the Jamaica Labour Party with Andrew Holness as leader came into power. Despite promising that Jamaicans they would be able to sleep with their doors open, murders of women and children and violent crimes has increased with Jamaicans feeling less safe than even before. Jamaicans are fed up with Andrew Holness’ empty promises on crime, but does Mark Golding have a crime plan? What is his solution to the crisis that has now in many ways crippled the Jamaican economy and way of life for it’s people?

According to Mark Golding, we have to focus on building peace and unity, as the main approach to reducing crime and violence. It is a mindset change that will guide the next PNP government. Referring to the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO), which is the go to crime fighting tool for the Andrew Holness led government, Golding argues that peace cannot be achieved through oppressive laws and government badness that trample on the basic rights and freedoms of the people. Peace and unity are directly linked to equal rights and justice.

Our position on crime, violence and the delivery of justice for our people remains consistent. It is rooted in our vision of social transformation. We believe in a balanced approach, using both crime control as well as crime prevention measures. A balanced approach is essential to social harmony and crime reduction. A more cohesive society is essential to reducing discontent and violence in society. Whether we are dealing with gender, race or class, I am hearing the prophetic words of Peter Tosh: there will be no peace without equal rights and justice, Golding said.

But is this a crime plan or just empty rhetoric?

A crime plan according to experts, is a systematic approach adopted by law enforcement agencies to minimize crime rates and enhance public safety. These strategies are developed to address various aspects of crime, including prevention, investigation, enforcement, and rehabilitation. Realizing the limited success of a strictly law enforcement-centric method, crime plans have increasingly incorporated collaborative efforts from the community. Engaging the public in maintaining the safety and quality of life in their neighborhoods has demonstrated remarkable success in numerous cities. Consequently, an efficient and dynamic crime plan is vital to follow a direction that fosters strategic goals and emphasizes progress.

Crime Awareness Campaigns are meticulously designed initiatives, launched to educate the public on various types of crimes and corresponding preventive measures. They encourage citizens to be vigilant and proactive in securing their neighborhoods from potential criminal activities. Knowledge dissemination is achieved through advertisements, seminars, workshops, and collaborations with other stakeholders, including schools and businesses. Community Policing is an essential component of a Crime Plan, where neighborhood police officers work in tandem with citizens, forging strong relationships and understanding local issues. It fosters trust between the police and the public, facilitating better reporting and identification of criminal activities and patterns.

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT PROGRAMS: Empowering the youth is significant in building a resilient community. Having youth participate in community activities, sports, and educational workshops, helps them gain skills, self-confidence, and a sense of responsibility for their areas. This also helps build relationships with police officers, leading to cooperation and an increase in youth-driven neighborhood safety initiatives.

The emphasis on strengthening detective units and providing them with sophisticated resources enhances their investigative capabilities. This includes the deployment of cutting-edge technology, collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, and advanced training programs. By efficiently solving cases, these units bring criminals to justice and contribute to the larger goal of crime reduction.

The above mentioned are some of the effective tools according to experts that can impact high crime rate in a society. Nevertheless, the Jamaican public have not seen a strategic outline of any effective method from neither Parties which could address the issue.

Take note that at a political rally former senator, Kern Spencer, stated, among other things: “Friends, losing another election in Jamaica would be our downfall. Friends, if we don’t win this one [ the local government election] it is going to be a colossal challenge to win any more election for the People’s National Party.” (Jamaica Observer, June 30, 2023)

Mark Golding is fully aware that a failure to notch a victory in a significant election, or at least hold his ground in the upcoming local government polls, positions his political future at boiling point. One might presume that such a near prospect would prompt 89 Old Hope Road to understand that simply boosting its base is insufficient for it to reclaim the reigns. The lack of this key understanding indicates to me that the PNP is stumbling on a near-empty tank.

We find ourselves in a period of substantial modifications in Jamaica. Some might argue that we are at a crossroads. We are faced with two definite alternatives: maintain our trend of breaking away from outdated national policies that seem to have governed the past fifty years or regress to the status quo. The two main choices are the Jamaica Labour Party and the People’s National Party but does any of the two have the ability, care or interest in solving the crime problem?

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