KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding has said there could be no denying that politics has contributed to the crime problem that faces the country. Mr. Golding, who was addressing the issue of political transformation at the third biennial Jamaican Diaspora Conference in Kingston on Monday (June 16), said political tribalism and some of the ugly manifestations of it, had contributed to the genesis of the criminal activity that we are experiencing in Jamaica.
He said there has been a signification reduction in the link between political tribalism and criminal activity in recent years, and especially over the last two general elections due to greater collaboration between the major political parties, but, there was still a far way to go.
The Prime Minister told the Conference that his administration gave a commitment that it would enact into law some of the provisions of the political code of conduct, as part of an approach towards the dismantling of political garrisons. He said the government would then codify into law, some of those provisions regarding the behaviour of politicians and make it a basis on which they could be impeached and removed from office.
Mr. Golding said this was an issue in which the Political Ombudsman would be given a special role to bring infractions to the attention of the appropriate authority, so that sanctions can be imposed.
He said transformation also had to take place in the police force, as the country could not get on top of the crime situation without having a police force that is effective, well managed and governed and administered within a framework of integrity. He said this was addressed in the recently concluded strategic review of the police force. Many of the recommendations in that review speak to improving the capability and professionalism of the force. He added that a review of the review has been completed and the next step will be to put together an implementation team to carry out the recommendations that have been made.
The Prime Minister said the Government was in the process of providing the resource support so that tough police efforts can be applied to get on top of the crime problem. He said this resource support would come in many forms, not just in terms of improving mobility, deployment and putting emphasis on crime hotspots, but also in providing the police with technological support as well as forensic and surveillance equipment to improve their crime fighting capability.
He said the government was looking at the authority that the police force exercises in order to determine whether that authority is appropriate to the level of threat that the nation faces from criminal elements. He said the government would have to proceed very carefully, but very deliberately, as the response of the State to crime is not something that is laid down in a text book applicable to every situation. He said the response to crime would have to be calibrated to be appropriate to the type of crime that we face. He said criminals were no longer retreating from police but were instead advancing on them when they entered a community.
Mr. Golding said the government has been engaged in discussions with the Opposition to see where changes were required, and how to introduce those changes in a way that will ensure proper monitoring and oversight of police activities to minimize the possibility of abuse. He said the government would not flinch in response to the problem, but would also ensure that the law abiding citizens do not become victims in the campaign against crime.