The Opposition leader told reporters on Tuesday at a press conference following the three-day retreat of the Shadow Cabinet last weekend, that "in addition to the immediate programme of action outlined there are the medium and long-term initiatives that need to be pursued if we are to win the war against crime and build a Jamaica that works for all Jamaicans."
Dr. Phillips said "in the medium and long term there has to be great effort to address the long-term sources of crime in the feelings of marginalization, loss of hope and deterioration of public order."
He pointed out that "the 700,000 Jamaicans who presently are defined as squatters in the land of their birth must be given security of tenure as a basis for empowering them as citizens and creating an environment in their communities that is more conducive to public order. Many squatter communities cannot be policed effectively and over time these communities become vulnerable to criminal elements."
The former Finance Minister, who was also National Security Minister in the Patterson and Simson-Miller administration, emphasized that "social interventions are critical in communities where the cooperation of the citizenry is critical in the fight against crime. Against this background, there is an urgent need for nationally coordinated social intervention programmes, such as Unite for Change, to be reinstituted immediately. These programmes maximize resources and empower communities and revitalise them through social, sporting and other activities, Dr. Phillips said.
He observed that "this will lay the basis for a better response to our call on community groups, citizens associations, neighbourhood watch groups to join with local security efforts in securing their neighbourhoods and creating stronger bonds with local police personnel."
The Opposition Leader concluded by pointing to the need to "take deliberate steps to prevent any further growth in this breeding ground for crime. This means early intervention with boys at-risk, and in particular those who are part of the 26,000 who leave the secondary level each year with no qualification and are basically unemployable.
"This problem can only be addressed by an education system that keeps these boys in an organized learning environment that exposes them to the training programmes that will prepare them for the world of work and for responsible citizenship," he declared.
Dr. Phillips said the PNP looked forward to the resumption of the Vale Royal Talks "which we expect will lead to a consensus on national security, and provide the opportunity for a broad base of stakeholders to contribute to the development of a national plan to seriously address the murder tsunami that has gripped the nation."
- Countries: Jamaica