Editorial

Third element of 'clear, hold, build' must be centrepiece of crime fight

Friday, July 21, 2017

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It is very encouraging to see that the Government of Prime Minister Andrew Holness is backing its efforts to reduce the crime level in the country with strong and robust budgetary support.

The announcement on Wednesday by Senator Ruel Reid, the minister of information, that Cabinet has approved an allocation of $2.75 billion for the National Security Ministry over what was initially tabled in the budget, is not only timely, it is vitally necessary. The only question is whether more funds could not have been found.

The security forces and the other supporting agencies require the tools to gain and totally remove ground from the criminals who have succeeded in wresting the country from the hands of decent, law-abiding Jamaicans, in the process spreading terror through some of the most heinous acts of brutality.

Senator Reid in his announcement said that the new budgetary provision would be used to facilitate activities associated with the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs), for the provision of additional vehicles, closed-circuit systems and body cameras along with other crime-fighting equipment needed by especially the police.

While we applaud this additional budgetary support, we again use this space to remind the Government and the security forces of the necessity to not only deal with the crime problem but also to build trust with the people, as a more sustainable way of controlling crime.

Despite the assurance from representatives of the Jamaica Defence Force and the Constabulary that the rights of the people will be protected during operations in the ZOSOs, we have not forgotten the wanton use of force in the past which has put a wedge between the security forces and the people.

The need for a fully developed social initiative programme to be activated, especially after security operations are conducted in the ZOSOs cannot be overstated. Without this, the ZOSOs' will return negative results and will be a colossal waste of time, energy and money.

With this new budgetary support, no excuses will be tolerated, if the people who suffer and are tormented by the criminals are not given the opportunity to recover and to rebuild their lives. The third element of the “Clear, hold, build” programme must truly be the centrepiece of future crime initiatives. Equipment is vital but cannot be seen as more important than social development of the communities involved.

Prime Minister Holness has publicly stated that the Government which he leads is committed to the process of engagement with the people by the soldiers and police and we are going to hold him steadfastly to this promise.

The time is now, there can be no more ifs, ands or buts. The people of Jamaica cannot tolerate another failed attempt at dealing with crime. It is the nation's very survival which is at stake.

So, we congratulate the Government for this significant monetary support and we also urge that proper systems are put in place by the Ministry of National Security in ensuring that this money is wisely spent and accounted for.

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