1,000 murders milestone concerns stakeholders

August 31, 2022

Jamaica has again recorded more than 1,000 murders in a year despite three months remaining on the calendar.

According to violence expert Dr Herbert Gayle, the demoralising trend will continue until the authorities at least address the issues of food security, access to education and proper parenting.

"Jamaica has not come out of the transitional period of independence. It still doesn't have an education system that benefits all, it still doesn't have ontological security for the masses of its people, it still doesn't have transparency, still doesn't have accountability. Even with all the tenets of democracy and all the big flag waving and independence, it hasn't really achieved genuine independence," Gayle told THE STAR. According to police statistics, there have been 1,003 murders recorded in 2022 between January 1 to August 29.

Gayle opined that it was short-sighted to solely blame the Ministry of National Security for the country's crime problem and warned that society will continue to decay until ministries such as education and health can provide better services to the Jamaican population.

"Rather than address those things, what have they sought to do? To this very unfortunate day, from 1974, they have been suppressing violence. This simply remove people's rights and attack them in droves using a paramilitary system, rather than sit back, examine, then do the hard, dirty work and say 'let us get the Ministry of Health right, because healthy people will produce more. Let us get the Ministry of Education right because opportunity structures mean people will have a sense of a future and less murders'," Gayle said.

Gayle said that despite decades of bloodshed it would take the authorities at least 20 years to make a serious and positive impact on the homicide rate, which currently stands just below 50 per 100,000.

"The way to address violence is to reduce violence from its roots. You are not making sure that the young people have hope, what do you think is going to happen?" he said.

Security expert Robert Finzi-Smith opined that until the severity of crime reaches uptown there will continue to be no meaningful change.

"Jamaicans have said recently that they don't have any confidence in the commissioner or [national security] minister. And what has happened is that the Government has led people to feel that this is an overall problem but I don't think so. I don't want to see this happening but start making Norbrook and Cherry Gardens lose people and see what happens," Finzi-Smith said.

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