Jamaica News: Several business leaders have welcomed news of the double-digit percentage reduction in a number of major crimes, including homicides.
Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) President, David Wan, describes the news as “very positive”, and attributes the decline to the implementation of measures such as the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) in Denham Town, Kingston; and Mount Salem, St. James, and the States of Public Emergency in the North St. Catherine Division and St. James, and other security interventions.
He tells JIS News that the implementation of these is indicative of the authorities’ heightened awareness and resolve to “get a hold of crime”.
Mr. Wan says the reduction is also attributable to significant economic activities that are generating jobs.
“If you drive around and look… I can scarcely recall any time in the last 20 years [when] I have seen so many cranes (on project sites)… and infrastructure improvements being done,” he says.
The latter, Mr. Wan notes, include the widening and upgrading of roadways such as Barbican Road, and improvement work now under way on Hagley Park Road and Constant Spring Road in Kingston, and Mandela Highway in St. Catherine.
Coupled with these, he adds, are residential and commercial activities, such as business process outsourcing [BPO] developments, including two prominent structures on Half-Way Tree Road.
“Those [types of developments] are contributing to jobs for the construction workers, and the spin-off effects of those enterprises [are resulting in] the people who depend on those workers now having some money to spend and feeling the benefits,” the JEF President says.
Mr. Wan says the BPO sector, in particular, has been contributing significantly to the growth in Jamaica’s employment rate, noting that the number of jobs generated in that industry over the last two years has increased from 12,000 to over 25,000.
Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) Past President, Warren McDonald, describes the eight-month crime-reduction out-turn as “commendable”.
He says the special security measures have “disrupted the main areas of crime and dislocated some of the criminals”.
Mr. McDonald argues that this is a “temporary reprieve”, and emphasises the need for the Government to maintain focus on the fundamental objective of attaining higher levels of sustainable economic growth and generating more jobs over the longer term.
He anticipates that these, coupled with the strengthening of social-intervention programmes, will be pivotal in reducing and maintaining low levels of crime.
Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) President, Hugh Johnson, lauds the Government for instituting security measures, including routine joint police military patrols.
While acknowledging that the Zones of Special Operations and States of Public Emergency have, to some extent, served to cauterise crime and violence, “we cannot have [these in place] indefinitely”.
“So, we are calling on the Government to step up social interventions in areas adversely affected by crime and violence. We believe that, over time, that will be able to keep crime at bay and even improve the situation,” Mr. Johnson adds.
Among the suggestions that he proposes for consideration are further strengthening of the JCF’s Community Relations programme, and boosting Police Youth Clubs, in addition to standard social interventions provided to citizens needing these.
“It’s a holistic approach… and we are asking for those to be implemented with dispatch in order to help to [further] improve the situation,” Mr. Johnson tells JIS News.
Speaking at a recent meeting in St. Elizabeth, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, assured that the Government will be intensifying efforts to suppress the perpetrators of crime.
He pointed out that crime, generally, “is going down… [so] our policies and strategies are working”.
Mr. Holness emphasised, however, that “I don’t take it for granted anytime at all, that the criminal intent is still there,” and assured that the Government is “not going to, in any way, ease up on our crime-fighting strategy”, but rather, will redouble its efforts.
“We are going to parallel that with a strategy to deal with violence in our country. So, I want to send a clear message that … though we are seeing good results, now is not the time for us to ease up,” he declared.
The Government’s ZOSO Social Intervention Committee has been instrumental in overseeing the administration of social services in communities declared Zones of Special Operations.
These services include assisting residents to acquire birth certificates and taxpayer registration numbers as well as accessing key medical and educational provisions.
One key programme being implemented in the Denham Town ZOSO is a School-Wide Positive Behaviour Intervention and Support (SWPBIS) framework, slated for roll-out when the 2018/19 academic year starts in September.
The SWPBIS, which was spearheaded by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, is a proactive, team-based initiative tailored to create and sustain safe and effective schools, by fostering a disciplined and structured environment to deal with challenges, such as student violence.
It will, among other things, target issues such as truancy, and behaviour modification among youth and adolescents.
The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) are partnering with the Ministry on the initiative.
Source: JIS News