Jamaica desperate for solution to problem of violent crime, says GoldingSunday, October 17, 2021
"Jamaica desperately needs a sustainable solution to its problem of very high levels of violent crime”.
That is the pronouncement of Opposition Leader and President of the People's National Party (PNP) Mark Golding. He made the comment on Sunday as he addressed the party's 83rd annual conference via Zoom.
“It's a desperate situation,” Golding remarked while highlighting that Jamaicans were being murdered this year at an even higher rate than last year.
Official Jamaica Constabulary Force statistics indicate that murders are up 10.4 per cent this year when compared to the corresponding period in 2020.
“Domestic violence is higher than ever. Violent crime is fed by a general lack of moral norms, discipline and behavioural standards which, as a nation we must address,” Golding told comrades. He said the fear and sorrow caused by such high levels of violent crime have sapped the hope of the nation.
And, he pointed out that there is a massive economic incentive to solving the country's crime problem as a World Bank study has noted that crime results in a direct cost to Jamaica of nearly four per cent of annual gross domestic product. This is in a context where Jamaica “has failed to achieve constant annual growth of even two per cent,” observed Golding.
He said the PNP believes that a balanced approach will yield long term results in the sustained reduction of violent crime.
“It cannot be achieved by resorting to oppressive laws that abrogate the rights of our people,” he remarked.
The former Justice Minister in the last PNP Administration said that in his party's last term in office which ended in February, 2016, programmes like United for Change and the strengthening of the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) helped to reduce the murder rate by 25 per cent below where it is presently.
“We did it before and we will do it again,” he declared.
Golding promised that under a future PNP government there will be a well-funded national programme to provide opportunities for vulnerable youths to “get another chance to become productive citizens”.
He said the focus will be on mentorship, training, remedial education and job placements as well as the reinforcing of their life skills, building their self esteem “and building a sense of citizenship which must be at the core of every young Jamaican”.
While the JLP has largely moved away from, or downplayed programmes like the PMI which deputy prime minister and national security minister Dr Horace Chang has insisted have not worked, Golding is looking to strengthen those initiatives if/when his party returns to Jamaica House.
“There will be a strong emphasis on programmes that intervene in conflicts on the ground to avert escalation into the spiral of reprisals that often lead to more and more killings,” he said.
He told the conference that this will be accomplished by training and empowering 500 violence interrupters across Jamaica.
“That is our commitment,” he said.
Additionally, Golding said a future PNP Administration would also “intensify and broaden the use of mediation and restorative justice in communities. He promised that this would not serve merely as an adjunct to the formal justice system.