The Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) has expressed deep concern about the crime situation in the country, and the level of brutality and brazenness to which it has descended. They now call on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to initiate a process to bring together the Government, Opposition, private sector, church and civil society for a “meaningful, non-partisan dialogue and strategic action towards bringing the crime situation under control and to an ‘acceptable’ level.”
In a July 10 statement shared on their Facebook page, the ecumenical organisation observed that governments over the years have not been able to offer a successful and sustainable response to crime. As a result, they said, the situation has only become worse.
It noted, while the Council is cognisant of the attempts of the present government to address the situation, it is the considered view of the Council that an initiative in this regard will need the input from both sides of the political spectrum, as well as the private sector and civil society if it is to succeed.
Weighing in on the topic, Archbishop Kenneth Richards of Kingston told The Gleaner, July 17, that before everyone could be included in the discussion on crime, the political leaders must first acknowledge that without collaboration there will be limited success in rooting out the problem.
He highlighted domestic violence as being a big contributor to the general state of crime on the island, and was in support of the reintroduction of strong family values in society.
“A forum is being planned by the JCC for September to address the crime issue because what we need is a multi-stakeholder approach to the problem, for the solution cannot only come from the police,” he said.
“Both Government and Opposition are persons who should be concerned with the advancement of the nation, and if they can’t come together to address this common problem, then it makes things more difficult.
“If we are going to overcome this problem, we have to do it together. There are even some low-hanging fruits that are there with respect to corruption and persons who might be complicit—whether politicians or persons in the security forces. Those are low-hanging fruits because they are identifiable, but people, for one reason or another, are not able to address it,” Archbishop Richards added.