The complex, multi-pronged anti-crime fight
Police on the scene of a murder at Paradise Court in Arnett Gardens earlier this week.

Among the more depressing headlines in this newspaper over recent days appeared on September 10.

'Murders up 7.4%' it read, with the article telling us of Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) statistics showing 1,055 murders in Jamaica up to September 7 compared to 982 for the same period last year.

Intriguing, but of little or no comfort, was that shooting incidents declined by 5.7 per cent to 813, compared to 862 for the same period last year.

Jamaicans are well aware that gunfire reported or not cause the bulk of murders in this country.

In that regard, we feel the pain of residents in Prime Minister Andrew Holness's St Andrew West Central constituency where we are told some schools had to send home students just two days after the start of the new school year. That's because of gang violence which claimed six lives over a three-day period.

We are reminded of the varied and complex reasons for crime in Jamaica's poor, urban neighbourhoods by suggestions that the gun violence in Waterhouse and Olympic Gardens stemmed from the perceived uneven distribution of contracts and employment. We are presuming that those contracts and jobs originated within the State apparatus, funded by taxpayers' money.

"It look like a likkle gang thing. Is like some local contract a run and some work supposed to go on. When dem thing deh a gwaan and certain people nuh involve it cause problem. Contract a run but it need fi share properly. Dem must give each area a piece of the work, instead of giving one set a man," one man told our reporter.

We are told that another man made a similar claim.

"Di way how the bigger heads set the thing, food will be giving away over one side and me nuh get none. One man up deh so get whole heap a money and one man round deh so nuh get no money, so it cause tension," he claimed.

This rationale for mayhem underlines this newspaper's long-standing call for basic community organisation and empowerment to undercut criminals.

Again, we strongly believe that interventions such as the planned Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica's $2 billion, five-year Project STAR (social transformation and renewal) set to target 20 troubled communities are critically important.

Of course, fighting crime has to be multi-pronged. We note Mr Holness's assertion that, in his constituency, technology, including surveillance cameras, will be installed to help spot criminal activity.

That's obviously an approach which must be implemented across Jamaica more particularly in high crime areas.

We are encouraged by the passage in the House of Representatives of the new Firearms (Prohibition, Restriction and Regulation) Act which National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang expects to act as a strong deterrent to criminals. Very importantly, it has received the support of the political Opposition.

Tough new provisions in the Bill include life imprisonment for illegal possession of a firearm with parole only possible after 15 years.

We wait to see if the new proposed legislation will stand in the face of possible legal/constitutional challenges.

Regardless, we can be certain that a way must be found to minimise, if not completely eliminate, the inflow of illegal guns and ammunition. That is an absolute necessity.

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