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EDITORIAL: Holistic attack on crime needed

marciadottin, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Holistic attack on crime needed

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Within the past decade there has been an upsurge of matters coming before the courts in which the illegal use of firearms or the unlawful possession of firearms has been a factor in the case.  
Before then, the mention of a firearm in court was unusual, and it created a sensation of the highest kind when an accused was charged with carrying an AK47 on his bicycle at night along a City street. One remembers too that the law on bail was tightened as it related to those accused of unlawful possession of firearms and related ammunition.
That was done in an attempt to deal with the growing problem of such offences as well as to deter would-be offenders from being tempted to carry, and worse, use such firearms.
That the legislation does not seem to have deterred as many young men as one would have hoped may be due to many factors; but suggestions of execution-type events in which young men are deliberately shot down in cold blood have raised the spectre of a most sinister motive and motivation to which the authorities must give some very urgent attention.
For many years now this country has had a sterling reputation as a law-abiding country which attracted foreign investment and tourists because of its political stability and the fact that they felt safe within these shores.
Our complacency has been rudely shattered, and gun-related crime appears to have reared its ugly head among us, even if the outward signs suggest that there might be some element of gang-related activity at work when the weapons have been used to maximum effect.
Our sister islands have suffered from the impact of high crime rates and the attendant adverse social fallout and several strategies have been adopted to deal with the problem. In Jamaica, the gun court with its stricter rules for criminal trials of gun related crimes has had a measure of success.
The trial, conviction and early execution in Trinidad of the Dole Chadee gang must have had a sobering impact on other aspiring gang leaders and members at least for a while; but wearing thin over time, the murder rate in that country is still high.
Our country is much smaller than Jamaica and Trinidad and the impact of an increase in crime is likely to be felt in perhaps a more personal manner than it might be in our larger neighbours, and there is therefore something of a more personal involvement by all of us in the resolution of this latest upsurge.
We have no doubt that there is a connection between the drugs trade and the presence of firearms, and that social deprivation and sometimes poverty may be relevant factors.
The attack on crime must therefore be of a holistic nature. There is no point tackling drugs and guns without trying to eliminate the social causes of crime. Hence we feel that the present problem needs to be attacked with the usual tools of increased detection techniques and greater response from a cooperative public.
Yet in all of this, poverty and personal hardship which may conduce to deviant tendencies must also be alleviated if we are to make significant progress in ridding this society of the scourge of gun-related crime.