Express Editorial : Daily

IF, in the midst of the upsurge of carnage, the best that the Government could do is lean heavier on Crime Stoppers then it is evident that it has no roadmap for leading the country out of the criminal quagmire in which it is caught.

Having begun his tenure with the promise of “less talk, more action”, National Security Minister Stuart Young could only muster more talk in a news conference yesterday, summoned in the midst of screaming headlines of “24 murders in seven days”.

After one year in the hot seat, Young should by now be more familiar with the hydra-headed nature of the criminal beast that has broken a long succession of National Security ministers. Having correctly identified the siloesque nature of the country’s security apparatus as a real problem, Young has been focusing on developing an inter-agency anti-crime thrust with himself at the helm, in an effort to get the individuals parts to start moving as a whole. Whether anything tangible has been achieved from the numerous inter-agency meetings over which he has presided is doubtful. Certainly, the body count indicates no advance.

Like the previous administration, the Dr Keith Rowley Government has been putting its hopes in a legislative agenda that prioritises increasingly tough anti-crime laws which, judging from the continued impunity and brazen-ness, is making no impression on the gangster world. Instead, the government is losing the battle because, like every previous government, it chooses the convenient path of pinning the blame on its political rivals. The crime plan of every political party appears to be to get itself voted into office. Beyond that, there is little convincing strategy.

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Minister Young was right to suggest that the crime problem did not start today. However, it would be disingenuous indeed if he was suggesting that it began with the People’s Partnership government. He only has to go back to the Scott Drug Report of 1986 to see the complexity of the crime problem that had developed over many long years before even then. For decades, the criminal underworld has been allowed to expand and wrap its deadly tentacles around every institution, including the Police Service. Today, it has mushroomed into a republic of lawlessness, protected by complicit businesspersons and financiers and by a network of compromised public officials, police officers, politicians, judicial personnel and many, many others. No political party has had the courage to taken on the “big fish” or the so-called community leaders, preferring instead to strike deals of mutual advantage that ultimately trap politicians and criminals in a dangerous tango.

While gang crime is not the only source of crime, it has sucked whatever little integrity once existed out of the body politic. The result is a republic of institutionalised distrust in which too many people are willing to take the law into their own hands, to settle disputes on their own terms, and to cut every corner in the pursuit for self-advantage at whatever the cost to others. Until Minister Young comes to grips with the depth of the problem, he will continue to be blind-sided, as he admitted yesterday with the look of a deer caught in the headlights.

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