Since Everyone is Talking About Crime…

June 18th, 2017

It seems everyone and his grandmother is talking about crime, these days. Everyone, from the loquacious cab driver, to the politician putting his foot in his mouth, to the all-knowing esteemed columnist has something to say.

They talk about the causes of our high crime rate:

  • Bad parenting – absent fathers, struggling mothers
  • Slavery – we are still suffering from that painful legacy
  • Dancehall music – those lyrics!
  • Delinquent media – well, you know the media gets blamed for everything, when people have nowhere else to turn
  • Lack of “God” in our lives – if only we would let Him in
  • Anybody or anything that is foreign (including, again, media)
  • Corruption (can’t argue with that as a factor, actually)
  • Indiscipline – a vague term that covers everything from public urination to “leggo beast” students
  • The “End of Times”
  • Jamaicans are simply a nasty, violent people
  • Lack of trust between police and communities
  • Young people behaving badly
  • Older people behaving badly
  • Politicians (ah…)

One cause of crime that is rarely mentioned is inequality – that imbalance that is not just economic. It’s more than that. It’s a lack of respect for others’ human rights and dignity. Some humans are worth more than others, and not only financially.

The terrible fire at Grenfell Tower has sparked anger and resentment among those who feel neglected and ignored in UK society. (Photo: AFP)

The terrible fire at Grenfell Tower has sparked anger and resentment among those who feel neglected and ignored in UK society. (Photo: AFP)

This is not just a Jamaican thing, of course. Our hemisphere has the highest levels of inequality in the world. It’s not just a “developing country” issue, either. In the wake of a series of sad events in London recently, several articles have appeared on this subject. A recent study by a think tank called the Resolution Foundation found that “just a tenth of adults own around half of the nation’s wealth” in the UK. Home ownership has fallen steadily. The horrible Grenfell Tower fire – a government building of “council flats,” mainly occupied by immigrants and the poor “working class” – has had a lot of political implications. Resentment and anger, among survivors and their neighbours, is real. So is tax evasion among the richer citizens of developed and developing countries alike, according to recent reports. Even Swiss bankers are worried about it.

Some Jamaicans believe that this man would be the knight in shining armour. Yes, like his tactics worked so well before...

Some Jamaicans still believe that this man would be the knight in shining armour. Yes, like his tactics worked so well before…?

Isn’t this sad? So, coming back to our island, our commentators do have solutions – even those whose efforts have palpably failed in the past. Here are some of mine (and theirs). Yet, surely we know by now, there is no instant “silver bullet”:

  • Bring back hanging
  • Bring back flogging
  • Bring back SSP Reneto Adams
  • Get more people to embrace Jesus
  • Teach everyone to meditate (my idea)
  • Look at the whole picture – social, economic etc. Crime is not an isolated phenomenon
  • Be much more vigilant on our borders – I think this is a priority
  • Community policing (a policeman named Steve McGregor understood this, but was then assigned to a desk job)
  • Give the police a human rights lesson every morning before they go out on the street! (my idea)
  • Don’t sideline the youth; help them
  • Gender equity, tolerance and non-discrimination
  • Improve intelligence, put in CCTV and upgrade technology
  • Get rid of corruption in the police force – now!
  • Speed up the justice system. This is really very urgent.
  • Infiltrate gangs, get a good “informer” network going (a no-brainer, but…)

OK. Well that’s probably just for starters. There are many other issues to be addressed. Meanwhile we are still talking… The Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) is holding another talk shop tomorrow evening. I am sure all of the above will be aired, and more. Why don’t you go along?

We’ve aired all the issues one thousand times. How about some careful, strategic and planned action, now?

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