The first recorded conference on crime was convened in 1989, “THE NEW CRIME WAVE – A NATIONAL CONCERN” when staff at the Community Development Division brought together government officials, school authorities, community groups, law enforcement and magistrates to examine the trends in juvenile delinquency and to implement measures designed to reducing its incidence and to indicate that if immediate action was not taken to stem the tide, the nation would be confronted with “a new crime wave.”
Attorney General, Mr. Tapley Seaton expressed the view “Fortunately the majority of them live worthwhile and productive lives, but the minority, if left to their own devices will soon blossom and overtake the majority.”
Senior Magistrate, Mr. John Lynch Wade “cautioned that in five years persons will not be able to walk the streets”, reducing by five years the observation of the probation staff whose prediction was ten years.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Edward Hughes, in his presentation on “Police Procedures” opined …… “if things continue to go unchecked, soon, individuals will probably be unable to walk down the streets without being molested”
During the years leading to 1989 period, criminal activity was at a minimum, no one even noticed. However the incidence of non attendance at school, maternal deprivation, family dysfunction and child neglect, juvenile offending were clear warning signs that a new crime wave was on the horizon.
The rate of Juvenile offending was, in 1990, hovering around 1.2% of all offences. In a short time span of some eight years later 1998, the rate of offending by juveniles had increased by about 17% and in 2004 by 66%.
It would appear that the hard evidence is consistent with the 1989 forecast and the prediction of the conference was “spot on.” The onslaught of criminal activity (not juvenile offending) was unleashed on the citizenry as predicted by the conference.
There can be absolutely no doubt that the Federation for several years has been experiencing unprecedented levels of criminal activity and in serious proportions, which none of its citizens or residents is willing to endure.
It is painfully obvious, that the country has not been able to apply any remedy with the degree of efficiency and effectiveness necessary to instill confidence in the adequacy of its response to crime. This has resulted in a rather uncomfortable situation in the extreme, for all residents who continue to hold out hope and wish that its incidence is reduced to more tolerable ranges.
Long term solutions to crime reduction and control, reside not in efforts at better policing, multi-million dollar investments in law enforcement, law revision, stiffer penalties, penal reform, conferences, commissions, councils and inter-ministerial committees but on an a completely new approach. One which encourages and provides tangible support to those institutions which give individuals a place and stake in the community by making it possible for them to play a meaningful role. one which gives them a sense of purpose, a feeling that they are wanted, valued and a sense of belonging•
Crime prevention strategies, therefore, as a matter of course should be built into the planning of all social and economic programs. This measure would have the effect of mitigating the negative effects of criminal behavior on development and progress. Such strategies must include primary prevention which is designed to stop the problem even before it starts.
Through a process of early intervention, action must be taken so that anti social behavior, personal, family or community problems are minimized or do not arise at all. All of the agents of formal and informal social control; the family, the community, the school, the church, legislation, the criminal justice system, the media are critical in crime reduction and control. Any effective response to controlling and reducing the intolerable levels of crime must be rooted in calculated efforts to arrest and repair the corrosive effects on these agents.