MONTEGO BAY, St James — Despite 4,328 cases of serious crimes reported since the start of this year, Minister of National Security Horace Chang is confident that the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Administration is competent to manage the “crime pandemic” across the island.
“We are faced with a crime pandemic that is eating out the heart and soul of our country [but]… I'm confident [that] we have the team and leadership to do what is required to put this country on a path of growth and prosperity,” said as he addressed at the JLP's 78th annual conference, yesterday.
According to Chang, even though the Government faces countless hiccups in its fight against crime, it has identified that “urban decay” plays a major role in the prevalence of criminal activities, and it is working to offer solutions.
“Of course, we are faced with the traditional bottlenecks in the institutional organisation...that sometimes gets in the way of the Government's programme to institute changes that are required,” said Chang.
“[And] in the area of crime, there are many who offer solutions, but we have to face the fact that crime in this country has become an endemic encouraged by urban decay spreading across all cities, especially in areas of the old sugar plantations where nothing was done to structurally move from sugar into an area of productive agriculture,” added Chang.
The security minister argued that urban decay has resulted in the highest incidence of crime across the southern belt, “Extending from central and south Clarendon into the Corporate Area, the sugar belts of Clarendon [and] St Catherine, and the urban decay of the Corporate Area. And of course, the sugar belt of the west in Westmoreland, Hanover and St James.”
With this in mind, Chang said, “the Government is committed to putting in place the resources that are required” and are in their jurisdiction to control the crime rate across the island.
The security minister told scores of people listening that the Government is obliged to fight crime.
“What we want to assure the country is that we see the problem and we are committed to it. There will be no overnight solution, there will be no knee-jerk reaction, because it is deeply embedded and we are faced [with] a challenge.
“We are going to invest in the security forces as we have been doing, but there's a [long] way to go. After years of neglect, we have had to put in place significant financing and the job is not yet done, but the men and women are working hard and we'll ensure that we can get them to a place where they can deal with this effective criminal menace,” Chang added.
He argued that young Jamaicans will benefit from the Government's investments in a bid to curtail crime.
“We are going to put resources in these areas of urban decay to offer the young people of these communities hope again,” said Chang.
“The work of the prime minister in setting up the National Service Corps, in extending training for the Human Employment and Resource Training (HEART), ensuring that young people and in particular young men can see a future is crucial to overcoming this criminal issue,” declared Chang.