KINGSTON — Member of Parliament for North West St. Ann, Mr. Othneil Lawrence, has suggested that the Police formulate a special anti-crime strategy for the resort areas of St. Ann.
Mr. Lawrence, whose constituency includes the resort town of Runaway Bay, said that while he welcomes the continued reduction in major crimes, there are concerns in resort areas, like Runaway Bay, about an increase in crime due to the developments taking place in the area.
“Runaway Bay remains a vibrant resort town, and we expect to benefit, significantly, from the increase in tourists predicted by the Minister of Tourism, as well as new tourism developments. In addition, there is a $6 million investment in developing Salem Beach, as well as a US$71 million Economical Housing Project of Jamaica low and middle income housing venture expected to start in April,” Mr. Lawrence pointed out.
He said that there was not only concerned about the influx of persons seeking jobs, but also the fact that, as the police target violent-prone areas in Kingston, St. Andrew, St. James and Clarendon, criminal elements are also migrating into the area.
“We are already seeing the signs: two persons were murdered recently and there were two other shooting incidents, including the shooting of a policeman, and several other incidents involving shootings,” he told JIS News.
He said that because of the need for housing, migration has swollen informal settlements in the Runaway Bay area, and those who fail to find jobs sometimes turn to informal and illegal income earning activities, creating an attractive environment for criminals on the run.
Mr. Lawrence says he is appealing for special attention to be paid to increasing the police personnel in St. Ann, as well as improving the capability of the police in terms of equipment and vehicles to properly patrol the area.
He says that, as far as the social intervention needed to support this effort, he will continue to use his Constituency Development Fund allocation to fund projects, and will persuade community organisations, the church and civic groups to assist. However, he said that, without an improved policing climate, the task will be very difficult.
By BALFORD HENRY, JIS Reporter & Editor