Sunday, January 21, 2018

Gloves need to come off

I wish to endorse Minister Jack Warner's recent statements on the need to put more focus on hard targeting measures to reduce crime.

With the recent blatant reprisals and scant disregard for the law by certain groups there can be no better time for us to start putting more emphasis on primary crime prevention, which involves law enforcement, deterrents to persons planning to commit a crime, hard targeting, and specific anti-crime operational policies, all of which have been on the back burner in preference for what is known as secondary crime prevention. This entails providing the avenues for individuals to have access to social services, in the hope that it would turn them away from a life of crime.

Secondary crime prevention is indeed important in the holistic approach to ensure a safe and secure society, as it involves measures such as counselling, education and employment opportunities for those who may feel that turning to crime is their last resort, and hence they can hopefully utilise their energies in the right direction, but these results usually only bear fruit after several years.

However, there is a reason why in crime prevention, these passive measures are known as secondary crime prevention, as they complement the critical element to reduce crime, which are the primary crime prevention measures.

It is not just because of my military tour of duty that I am obligated to focus on the primary crime prevention measures, but a criminological fact that these are the approaches that need to be focused on to reduce crime. The catalyst for reducing crime is to take the gloves off and put stringent measures in place to let everyone know that deterrents are in place and the greater the deterrent, then the less likelihood that someone would commit a crime. This should involve both violent crime and white collar crime.

If we do not put these deterrents in place as well as implement scientifically constructed anti-crime operational policies to apprehend those who disregard the deterrents, then regardless of how many family days, basketball tournaments, and social policies we implement, crime will not be reduced to an acceptable level.

We can no longer be allowing persons or groups who feel that they can break the law and then be bold enough to now do it in the eyes of the law enforcement units, to continue this pattern of lawlessness, which includes individuals burning tyres and blocking roads because they want more than $69 per day, or because they want a road repaired and feel that is the right avenue, or someone making public statements that the Prime Minister would no longer be safe, or illegally squat on the pavement for weeks and even pitch tents, and do nothing in the hope that by the authorities being lenient, the issue would disappear.

In the same manner that the appropriate swift justice is given for someone who did not take a breathalyser test, then the same approach should be expected for anyone who breaks any law, and they should be charged accordingly.

We have fallen short so far in understanding the simple but scientifically sound concept of the Broken Window Theory, which is one of the many hard targeting approaches that we need to apply.

The Broken Window Theory is not zero tolerance, which by the way, is a cosmetic statement that holds little substance in criminology and combating crime. It is in fact a concept which has been applied in several major cities with positive results. If we continue to disregard minor misdemeanours and trivialise them by trying to be lenient, then others would follow and do the same thing, expecting that there would be no disciplinary consequences to follow, and then others would start to do worse, such as being bold enough to say that they would try and shut down the country because they want jobs, houses or better roads.

This Broken Window Theory is just one of many hard targeting anti-crime concepts that we promised to apply to reduce crime. It may not be the ultimate political measure to win over the favour of everyone, but the law-abiding citizen demands that the hard policies commence now to effectively reduce crime.

There is the mandatory demand by our citizens and the country that our nation is not controlled and intimidated by a specific few lawbreakers who feel that they are above the law and that they would not pay the price for their actions.

It is time to start changing our policies and direction to what is required most, which involves putting the stringent measures to ensure a safe and secure country.

It is indeed time to take the gloves off.

Gary Griffith is National Security

adviser to the Prime Minister