It is accepted that a certain amount of “puffery” is par for the course in politics. But there are certain areas of national life that ought to be declared out of bounds and one of these is crime.
The very raison d’être of man forming a state – run by a government – to which powers are conferred, was to preclude the “rule of the jungle”, which undergirds crime. All governments, therefore, have to place citizens’ security at the top of their agenda and ensure the institutions of the state charged with security, execute their missions professionally.
After a year of doggedly refusing to concede that crime was a growing menace confronting the citizenry and insisting that instead, that crime rates were actually decreasing, elements of the government – including the Minister of Public Security and Minister of Telecommunications – have grudgingly accepted recently that maybe they misread the situation. It is hoped that the Opposition will not be gloating, since as a “government in waiting”, they also have a duty not to exaggerate or exploit the crime anxiety that pervades the country.
What was evidently missed by the policymakers, but now reportedly conceded by the Minister of Public Security in an engagement with a representative from the Private Sector Commission, was the ease with which criminals at even the lowest village level can obtain guns flowing across our borders and the criminals willingness to use them without compunction in the commission of their crimes.
Acceptance that a problem exists, however, is the first step in solving it. For years there have been proposals for “intelligence led policing” (ILP) to become the model for the police response to crime. ILP enables the police to be more proactive in preventing rather than solving crimes after they are committed and victims are traumatised or worse. With guns so prevalent in the communities, individuals in the communities know who are in possession of them and once the police have their network of “sources” the guns can be seized. Even without the police expanding their intelligence gathering network, there have been a few interceptions of weaponry and this will increase exponentially once it is in place.
The GDF must also be deployed to our borders – especially with Brazil from where most of the guns originate – to intercept gun shipments. It was ironic that the former Chief of Staff, Brigadier Mark Philips identified the problem of porous borders and guns in the hands of criminals but did not offer this solution.
Another reason why the authorities have missed the boat on crime is not to also connect its nexus with drug usage by what used to be just petty “riff raff” in the communities. These elements have graduated from smoking marijuana in the 1980’s to mixing it with cocaine that is siphoned off from in-transit shipments and frequently adulterated. These addicts’s brains have become addled and their morals atrophied: killing persons to steal even minor items is now commonplace.
Here again, ILP is crucial in nipping this scourge – ahead of the criminals’ depredations against citizens. In the communities, most of the drugs are sold and consumed in “drug houses” that are well known to residents. Sad to say, without an ILP programme, most complaints to the police about these “drug dens” are not followed up and even more regretfully because some elements of the police have been bought off.
These suggestions can form the skeletal framework for addressing the peculiarities of the present crime wave.