Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, has emphasised that a major reduction in crime is a "strategic objective" of the Government, in order to facilitate economic growth and social stability, and is an “absolute priority,” if Jamaica is to progress.
However, he noted that this strategic objective will not be achieved by taking incremental steps, and that the strategy “calls for nothing less than a new paradigm in crime fighting."
The Minister was delivering the keynote address at the 30th anniversary banquet of Allied Security Protection Limited, held at the Terra Nova Hotel, in Kingston, on March 17.
Outlining the main features of the new approach, the Minister said that the strategy will focus largely on “removing the profit from crime.”
This, he said, will be achieved by creating an “elite task force to bring the full force of the law against the kingpins and facilitators of major crimes, including lawyers, real estate brokers, bankers and accountants."
He reiterated the Government’s intention to expand the Proceeds of Crime Act, to give courts the power to seize the assets of the facilitators of major crimes. He added that this will be reinforced by enacting anti-gang legislation and focusing operational initiatives on confronting and dismantling criminal networks.
Ongoing efforts, he said, will include the “sustained and systematic campaign to build greater levels of co-operation between law enforcement and the community."
Respect and confidence must define the relationship between the arm of the law and the citizenry, which it “serves and protects."
The Minister declared that critical to the achievement of the national security objectives is the deployment of the resources of the security forces, as “all measures to achieve a more effective management of crime and anti-social behaviour rests on the capacity and commitment of the police force."
Mr. Bunting said that a substantial reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour is a pre-requisite for the sustained expansion of the economy, and the creation of jobs to satisfy the 50,000 new job seekers who come on the labour market each year.
“At present, in addition to some 154,700 unemployed persons, there are some 467,000 between 14 and 29 years who are neither employed nor seeking work. This group supplies the ‘shottas’ for criminal networks and accounts for approximately 75 per cent of the homicides,” he informed.
The Minister argued that the large pool of unemployed young people is a repository for crime and other forms of anti-social behaviour.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter