We are closely watching the crime situation in St Mary following the recent triple murder in the parish. These murders committed by criminal gunmen have sent shock waves not only through the parish but indeed the entire country.
Once a thriving mecca for agricultural pursuits with several sugar factories and banana plantations, St Mary has declined rapidly to become one of the poorest and most challenging parishes in the island for both its residents and the police. We remember with pride the Highgate chocolate factory and the quality products they produced for local and overseas consumption. Alas, such entities are no more and the Highgate factory has faded into distant memory and oblivion.
Clear manifestation of this decline is the rather gruesome and unwanted upsurge in crimes, with murders now commonplace. We note with trepidation the dramatic rise in the murder count in St Mary. Based on statistics available, 24 murders have been committed in St Mary since the start of the year, representing a chilling increase, which we are certain drives dread and anxiety into all of the parish's law-abiding residents. This murder figure of 24 compares with seven for the corresponding period last year. Surely, all the stakeholders of the parish must be very concerned, but apart from a curfew imposed after the recent triple murder, we are neither seeing nor hearing of a concerted response from the residents, the politicians, or even the police to stem this venomous tide of decay in St Mary.
The St Mary decline can be attributed to many factors including weather, which has decimated its major agricultural crop - banana, on several occasions, and the inability of its political representatives to truly grasp the problems and deal with them in an effective manner.
The upshot of this lack of planning, attention and general malaise which have taken root in St Mary is the increased number of persons who cannot find jobs, and as we well know, if hands are idle, sooner or later they will find things to do including moving to a life of crime, usually beginning with petty crimes before advancing to murder. We fully understand too that some of the crime problems in the parish are being committed by persons who live outside of the area and who, after committing crimes elsewhere, find safe haven in St Mary.
Given this expanding and now flourishing ground for crime, this newspaper is publicly calling on the residents of the parish through their various associations, the political representatives Messrs Morais Guy, Joylan Silvera, Winston Green, the Custos, the business community, the youth groups and, of course, the police, to convene a special conference to flesh out the matter, take meaningful decisions and set practical deadlines.
Some sort of action is needed quickly and the stakeholders must make a move before it is too late. St Mary cannot be allowed to deteriorate any further.