VIOLENT CRIMES CONSTITUTE one of the greatest social problems facing Jamaica at this time. Over the past two decades, Jamaica has experienced an unparalleled increased in homicides and violent assaults. Many attempts made throughout the years to reduce the number of violent crimes occurring in the island have mainly been short-term measures, aimed predominantly at increasing Police mobility and firepower and have ultimately proved to be unsustainable.
EARLY IN THE present academic year the Faculty of Social Sciences, with the encouragement and support of PVC Professor Kenneth Hall, principal of the Mona Campus, U.W.I., spearheaded an initiative by the University to assemble its various scholars from across the faculties, to propose long term strategies, which could effectively lead to a reduction in violent crimes and the overall levels of aggression in the country. This document represents a consultative approach to the problem of crime fighting and violence reduction and is intended to provide a more comprehensive and sustained response to this grave problem plaguing our nation.
THE CONSULTATIVE PROCESS included scholars, from the three campuses of the University of the West Indies, scholars from Northern Caribbean University, from the University of Technology, from our community colleges, theological colleges and seminaries, our teachers colleges, as well as from the other tertiary level institutions across the island. To guide and focus the deliberations, a team of scholars, namely, Professor Freddie Hickling, from the Faculty of Medical Sciences; Dr Wilma Bailey from the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences, and Professor Bernard Headley and Dr Anthony Harriott from the Faculty of Social Sciences, all from the Mona Campus, U.W.I., prepared a working paper around which the discussions were centred. The first of these discussions were held on October 28, 2000, after which the original working document was extensively updated and revised, in keeping with the input and suggestions of the more that 50 participants present. The newly revised document was once again presented, at a second meeting held December 3, 2000, after which further revisions were once again made.
THE DOCUMENT PRESENTED here reflects the body of research and experiences of a wide range of scholars and academics and is intended to form a platform on which further discussions can be held, and other additions made to the document by various other stakeholders in the society. One of the main features of this document is that the proposals contained herein, advocates a transformative approach to how we view and respond to our dilemma. If the solutions are to be thorough, far-reaching, and effective, then our structures, procedures and relations have to be fundamentally transformed so that the necessary results can be obtained. Another major feature of this document is that, everyone has a role to plan. Criminal violence is not a problem only for the police, nor is it one only the Government. It is a problem for all of us and therefore has to be addressed by all the stakeholders and sectors in our country.
FINALLY, THE DOCUMENT is not cast in stone, but is, in a real sense a work in progress, that must be added to and perfected by all sectors of the society. We believe, that once expanded, this document can be an effective policy guide for a comprehensive effort at crime reduction, crime management and the general reduction of violence and aggression in the Jamaican society.
Professor Barry Chevannes
Dean - Faculty of Social Sciences, U.W.I., Mona. January 2001.
LIKE ANY NUMBER of other Caribbean nations, Jamaica has in recent times been struggling with the problem of serious crime and violence. At the end of 1999 the number of murders in this nation of 2.5 million stood at 849, more than twice the number two decades ago, for an estimated homicide rate of close to 30 per 100,000 people-more than twice that for...