Crime can be considered one of the biggest obstacles to growth and development in Jamaica. Peter Bunting's presentation at the first PSOJ/ Columbus Business Solution Security Forum for 2013, held in April at the Hotel Versalles in Clarendon, entitled, Investing in National Security: Fastest Return on Investment, cites statistics and outlines the plans that are in place for Jamaica's future regarding crime and security.
If we were to break up the year 2012 into quarters, doing side by side comparisons, all but the first quarter showed a reduction. Despite all these seemingly dismal figures the statistics reveal that serious crimes (sexual offences and acquisitory crimes) have all gone down by 7% and these are currently the lowest murder statistics in nine years.
In spite of these improvements, Jamaica still has a far way to go. According to Minister Bunting, the plan is to reduce crime to first world levels by 2017, and he believes we can achieve this first through the strengthening of the institutional capacity of our security forces. Efforts to increase their capabilities will include more security personnel, more vehicles for improved mobility, better use of technology and other initiatives such as expansion of the forensics lab and infrastructural repairs to the JCS, JDF and DCF.
Crime prevention and community safety are also high on the list of priorities. Under this initiative, sustained media campaigns will be used to raise awareness of the negative impact that criminals have on the community. These campaigns will run for longer periods than previous ones have done and will also utilise new media, such as social media, to bring their points across.
Social intervention programmes such as the Citizens for Securities Justice Project (CSJP) will also be used to channel our unemployed youth, many of whom are the masterminds behind some of the crime being committed, into main-stream employment.
A change in the current national culture is also needed. National security needs to be seen as not just the government's responsibility but also the responsibility of the citizens of Jamaica.
• Jamaica's murder rate ranks fourth highest of eleven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
• On the World Economic Forum's Competitiveness Index, Jamaica ranks 97th out of 144 countries and in the last five years the country has fallen 29 places.
• 1,133 murders were reported in 2011, and in 2012 the figure decreased by 46, lowering the total to 1,087 reported murders.
• Crime has cost the country 67-90% of GDP over 40 years and aside from the financial costs associated there are emotional ones as well, such as fear, misery and grief.
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