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Violent crimes cripple our quality of life
There was a time January engaged us with who would win Road March, and Calypso Monarch, who we liming with for Panorama semis, which all-inclusive fete should not be missed, and the fiercest rivalry was over stuff that amounted to what we know as Robber Talk. Nowadays, I find my year begins with the counting of murders-per-day, an upsurge that makes for national and personal insecurity.
This January exhibited its peculiarity with discordant campaigning and disquieting levels of homicides. The alarm was even greater because only in December acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams promised a reduction in crime in 2013, and then in early January declared there had been a ten per cent reduction in 2012. Swiftly on the heels of attempts to impress us with statistics which prove (to national-security honchos) that there is a reduction in serious crime, killings surged to 16 in 16 days, 21 in 19 days, and we close this month on the affecting note of over 31 killings, 31 too many.
My philosophy about pronouncements on crime reduction is that we, the people who live in the state of insecurity, should be the ones to tell national-security personnel when the crime rate is down. It’s us who’d really know. It is our fear of crime and criminal elements, which should determine this nation’s real sense of security. Fear of crime is a real phenomenon and even if we do not consciously count our changed conduct, each of us can find adjustments in our daily routine that can be attributed to our not being or feeling secure.
Fear of crime has been studied in Ireland, the purpose of the study being the investigation of the level of fear of crime and its impact on quality of life. It is a “subjective phenomenon,” defined as “an emotional response of dread or anxiety to crime or symbols that a person associates with crime. It incorporates not only an individual’s emotional concerns about crime, and the consequences of criminal activity, but also their perceptions of risk and the role of the environment in eliciting fear.” (www.qub.ac.uk)
The Economist says quality-of-life index links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys—how happy people say they are—to objective determinants of the quality of life across countries. “Being rich helps more than anything else, but it is not all that counts; things like crime, trust in public institutions, and the health of family life matter too… as well as unemployment and personal security,” it says. Last week the Guardian reported acting CoP Williams admitting that “violent crime was ‘very high’ and reducing that fear was a big challenge for the Police Service.”
Williams’ quest to “decrease serious crime, including murder, by 23 per cent” brings little comfort to the nation since the evidence supporting success is nonexistent. And even as he hypothesises, “We (the police) must get rid of violent crime,” I am thinking that that utopia he’s suggesting will not be achieved solely through the actions of a floundering protective service, not while we are determinedly lawless on every level, including our politics and public institution.
My contention is that if in national-security leadership we can also find the fanning of flames of racism, alleged and suspected duplicity, rancour, continuous spittling of angry comments on this and that in the media, and an inability to separate politics from governance, then national security here will remain a psychological conundrum in which monkey cannot see its own tail, the very tail that is whipping its backside.
Every upsurge in violent crime here is followed swiftly by pronouncements of crime plans and increases in measures of force, which elicited this in a Guardian editorial: “There has been no evaluation of past efforts at improving police presence and effectiveness and, with pressures of the recent murder spike hanging over him, the security minister’s plan feels more like a knee-jerk response than a considered plan of action.”
We would do well to consider the countries such as Iceland, whose murders a year tally 0.00 and which is the most secure country in the world. The fact that its civil servants do not carry weapons should alert us to something about our intended increase of warlike weaponry/tactics as a response to criminal elements. In Iceland, says squidoo.com, there are “130 prisoners who are allowed to go home on weekends… in general, a real paradise on earth.”
Interestingly, Singapore, listed among the world’s best ten with its mixture of Chinese, Indian, Malay, Arab and western cultures, is also one of the safest places in the world, with murders at 0.38 per 100,000 inhabitants. It’s noteworthy that this is also one of the most unique places in the world “where there are literally no inter-cultural conflicts.”
Here, we are an angry people, an unruly citizenry, that unruliness intensified by high levels of crime and the fear of crime, which erode family and community life, breaking down our mental wholesomeness as a country.
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