Politicians in their ackee on football game with crime

Thursday, January 03, 2019

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Our political leaders find their mindless football game on crime so 'sweet' that they have taken it into the new year with a laser focus more on scoring points, rather than saving lives. The latest salvo is, unbelievably, about when to meet to discuss crime.

It is what politicians do, score points, but in this situation it is extremely difficult to comprehend how hard it is for them to take off the blinkers and join hands in the fight against crime which is perhaps the one issue that all Jamaicans agree on.

We said it before and we'll say it again in this space that the Opposition was wrong to vote against extending the states of public emergency in three parishes, even while continues its struggle to force the Government to formulate a feasible crime plan.

Since that ill-fated vote, the Government has been content to milk it for what it's worth to portray the Opposition as having no interest in securing the nation, rather than step up its game in securing a crime plan around which the country can be united.

We do not pretend to be unaware of the natural difficulty to walk away from a great opportunity to score political points. Indeed, the Government had suffered in silence while the Opposition squeezed everything it could out of the Petrojam scandal, but it is what they both must do for this nation.

The dramatic picture of Kingston and St Andrew Parish Judge Sancia Burrell praying for a reduction in crime at the Webster Memorial United Church Watch Night Service, published in yesterday's edition of the Jamaica Observer, speaks volumes more than we could ever say in this space.

The crime statistics released by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) tell their own stark story about the urgency with which we must approach the fight to defeat this stubborn scourge that has ravaged our trying country.

While the numbers were mostly about reductions in crime, which we must celebrate, there is very little comfort in that, overall, the figures are too high for a country not in a civil war.

According to the JCF's periodic serious and violent crimes review up to December 29, 2018, there were 1,281 murders, compared to 1,637 for the same period in 2017, or a reduction of 21.7 per cent. Who in his or her right mind could be happy with 1,281 murders?

Rape was also down 12.3 per cent with 428 reported in 2018 compared to 488 for the same period in 2017, while shooting dropped 22.2 per cent to 1,147 reported in 2018.

Aggravated assault, the JCF said, also saw a decrease of 12.1 per cent as there were 369 cases reported last year compared to 420 for the same period in 2017.

The overall decrease in these crimes, categorised by the JCF as “serious and violent”, is 19.8 per cent for the January 1 to December 1, 2018 period.

The police data also showed decreases in robbery, 15.1 per cent; and break-ins, 4.3 per cent. However, larceny saw an increase of 4.9 per cent, with 149 reported cases in 2018, compared to 142 in 2017.

Generally, the figures demonstrate how much more work we need to do as a nation to make our people and visitors feel safe.

So while Rome (read Jamaica) is burning, our political leaders are fiddling…and enjoying their political football game with crime.

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