Now, that's what we're talking about!

Thursday, February 01, 2018

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We in this space can hardly contain our excitement over two news items that we believe augur well for the fight against crime and signal that the Jamaican populace seems ready, at last, to rise from its long and costly slumber.

First, it was reported that on Tuesday a prison escapee was found with his hands and feet bound under a bridge in Tivoli Gardens in Western Kingston, and is now back in police custody. He had fled the Denham Town lock-up in September 2016 after being charged with breaches of the Firearms Act.

The police, who were clearly ecstatic upon being alerted by citizens, commended the members of the public who assisted with the recapturing of this fugitive. Interestingly, even though there were signs that corporal punishment might have been administered, the man was taken alive to hospital.

If one is allowed to extrapolate the issues surrounding the single incident, the capture of the fugitive is significant in the context of what is currently happening with the runaway murder rate and efforts to tame the crime monster. What an example for other communities to follow.

Second, and possibly more important, the umbrella organisation of merchants, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), reports that the business sector is in the process of forging a national consensus to develop a credible strategic plan to tackle crime in Jamaica.

Chamber President Larry Watson says the consensus being forged with the Government, Opposition, civil society, and security experts seeks to make Jamaica a safe and secure society by reducing the present 58 murders per 100,000 in thepopulation to no more than 18 per 100,000 by 2025.

“Key performance indicators (KPIs) will be agreed and it is expected that an EPOC-type (Economic Programme Oversight Committee) model of public-private oversight will be employed,” Mr Watson says, noting that the country could be benefiting from an additional four per cent growth each year, if crime is contained.

We also found it encouraging that the JCC has pledged to support measures to ensure that laws are enforced and to deter corruption, which is a monstrous factor behind crime in Jamaica and which has a cancerous hold on the police force.

This initiative involving the business sector should be strongly encouraged and supported by Jamaicans on a whole; doing things like what took place in Tivoli Gardens, finding ways to funnel information to the police about criminal activities, and flushing them out of their hideouts.

We have far more confidence in the actions of citizens against crime than a thousand hypocritical speeches by politicians who are too compromised to undertake any serious, sustained assault on the gunmen.

All Jamaica knows that if the two major political parties were to unite the people to fight crime we would win the battle. But we are hopeful that with the business sector engaged it will force the parties to cut their links with criminals, even if it doesn't happen overnight.

Moreover, the additional resources that the business sector could mobilise would represent a game changer. Such resources, however, must not fall into the coffers of Government. The recent motor vehicle fiasco, which no security minister should survive, is warning enough.

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