Public now has access

MINISTER of National Security Dr Horace Chang yesterday announced that Government has decided to make public the country’s crime statistics, ending months of goading from the parliamentary Opposition for the publication of the figures.

Chang — who moved a motion in the House to extend Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) in Mount Salem, Denham Town, Greenwich Town, and August Town — was responding to a call from Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips who had earlier argued that the publication of the statistics served to better inform citizens of Government’s decisions in determining areas to implement specific crime-fighting strategies.

“I want to urge that we return to the pre-existing system of publicising the numbers; making it available to the public. [This is] not because we are seeking to sensationalise, but I think we all recognise that public discussions, public knowledge about the nature of the issues would be of assistance in helping the society chart a course forward that would enable us to confront the challenge of rising criminality effectively, and mobilise public support behind a national position,” Phillips told the House, while at the same time declaring the Opposition’s support for the ZOSO extensions.

He argued that in determining how to quell the current murder wave dogging the country, the publication of the statistics is necessary to understand how communities are targeted and the social conditions in these communities which drive criminality.

This, he said, will allow stakeholders to collectively fashion a response.

Phillips also insisted that if other ZOSOs are to be declared the decision ought not to be taken solely by the Government or the National Security Council.

“There are the rest of us, not only in here, but I think in the entire community of well-thinking Jamaicans, would want to be able to support such a declaration and such an approach,” said Dr Phillips.

“…Let’s open up the information. Let’s get the crime management oversight committee functioning and let us fashion a national effort because I think all the crises which we face, whether it be COVID or economic revival, really at this time require a national effort. And that places a particular responsibility on Government for transparency, openness and the highest standards of governance,” he added.

In response, Chang noted that, as of yesterday, crime statistics were being published on the website of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

He also said that this is to be published and updated weekly.

“We have no interest in hiding the facts because the facts are what will ensure that we can get the buy-in from the public and they can also hold us accountable for what we are doing,” Chang told the House.

“The reality is that crime is a chronic problem and the Government has prioritised it and is committed to pursuing programmes to restore public safety, public order, disrupt criminal activity and deal with corruption,” he added.

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