Still relying on SOEs, Gov’t bankrupt of ideas to fight crime – Bunting
Former Minister of National Security, Senator Peter Bunting says the Government is “bankrupt of ideas” to effectively fight crime.
He made the assertion recently during his contribution to the 2023/24 State of the Nation Debate in the Senate.
Bunting argued that this is evident by the fact that the Andrew Holness-led administration “continues to rely solely on ineffective emergency measures to curb the deeply-rooted issues of crime and violence”. He was speaking specifically to the recent re-introduction of a spate of states of emergency (SOEs) to tackle the crime situation, particularly in western parishes.
He poured cold water on recent statistics produced by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), citing that while the Government and the JCF have heralded and celebrated the reduction in murders relative to last year, the figures are misleading.
“The public has reacted with confusion and disbelief as the daily media stories reporting murders, double murders, triple and quadruple murders (and shootings) don’t seem to accord with statements by the commissioner of police and the minister of misinformation,” said Bunting.
He also appeared to mock Government Senator Don Wehby.
Said Bunting: “Only a couple Fridays ago, Senator Wehby was here [during his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate] reciting almost as an article of religious faith, since it isn’t evidence-based, that SOEs work. That same Friday the leadership of both the Government and the JCF touted the supposed success of the recent SOEs initially imposed in November, and which spurred a further performative declaration of additional SOEs”.
According to Bunting, “their self-congratulatory indulgence was short-lived as at least 21 murders [took place] in the three or four days following the SOE expansion, most of these murders took place in SOE parishes. That week when Senator Wehby declared emphatically that SOEs work, there were 38 murders reported across Jamaica”.
Bunting highlighted the incidents of violence coming to public attention which he noted intensified after SOEs were declared. They include:
• The murder of a second-form student of Anchovy High School, Randy James, who was fatally shot while seeking shelter during a sudden downpour;
• The murder of well-known businessman William ‘Baba Roots’ Webb at his home in Darliston, in Westmoreland;
• The double murder of the Thompson brothers (18 and 20 years old) in Farm View, Green Pond, St James;
• The double murder of the two Moodie siblings in Westmoreland, and the bodies filmed being buried in a shallow grave;
• Another attack on a Beryllium vehicle by multiple armed thugs in Grey Ground, Manchester; and
• The bursar of Hopewell High being murdered on the school compound.
“These incidents highlight an administration bankrupt of ideas that continue to rely solely on ineffective emergency measures to curb the deeply rooted issues of crime and violence,” Bunting said.
By way of context, Bunting pointed to the JCF crime statistics for year-to-date January 1 to December 16 which show that there have been 1,349 murders reported for the period. This represents an eight per cent reduction when compared to the same period last year.
“However, what the government and the JCF won’t highlight is that last year (the comparator year) had the second-highest number of murders since the 2010 Tivoli Operation related to the extradition of Christopher Coke.
“So the statistics can be down relative to a record bad year but still represent an objectively horrific situation currently,” Bunting remarked.
He repeated a statement he made at the People’s National Party annual conference in September that at the current rate of murders in 2023, by year-end, approximately 1,400 Jamaicans would have been murdered.
Bunting also provided statistics to show that the four-year period between 2012 and 2016 when he served as minister of national security, the country recorded its lowest spate of murders for any comparative period from 2008-2023.