(CNS): The Chamber of Commerce wants to lead policy discussions on crime with the government to find some solutions to what many see as a growing threat to the economy. The business organisation, which sees crime as a major threat to the bottom line of local businesses, said it was something the country had failed to prevent for lack of focus on its root causes. Following a shoot-out with robbers and the police at the weekend and a murder in the street last night, the Chamber issued a press release Wednesday calling for renewed action on the issue.
“We are not interested in just another discussion,” said Chamber President Paul Byles. “The idea is to bring together the previous work done in this area and take a multidisciplinary approach to the problem. A coherent medium-term strategy with committed resources or a reallocation of current resources is needed immediately.”
He added, “Clearly as a country we have not come to grips with the issue and the previous approaches have not worked. We are better at treating the symptoms of crime after it has occurred, but we are failing to address the core root and cause of the problem.”
Byles said the Chamber is willing to work with policymakers on both sides of the aisle and with key stakeholders and experts to address the core issues causing crime rates to increase.
Identifying and supporting at-risk youth, dealing with youth unemployment and under-employed work permit holders, lack of parenting, and investment into sports and, in particular, youth involvement in sports, are among some of the areas previously raised by experts and the wider community, and Byles said the country needed to make a far better effort at addressing these root causes.
“The Chamber recognises that we cannot have a thriving business community in an environment which is not safe and socially harmonious. For this reason, our members have always invested heavily in youth, community and sports initiatives and will continue to do so,” he said.
The call from the Chamber follows Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller’s call for government to establish a select committee on crime but there has been no response yet from the government.
Premier Alden McLaughlin is only partially responsible for the police, as the elected arm of government has no policy or operational control of the RCIPS but is charged with appropriating the budget. In the latest budget, delivered in November and for the first time covering two years, law enforcement spending was increased in order to fund a dedicated community policing unit.
The beats and officers dedicated to the new unit were launched just last week and those officers will remain in their communities. The beat officers will continue to play a direct role in the crime fight and assist with the recent high-profile cases but they will stay on their relevant beats.
Unlike in the past, they will not be redeployed in response to any specific crime spike as the RCIPS management believes they are an important part of the police work tackling all crime.