Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Thursday, June 03, 2010

How Some See Crime

A reader of this blog sent in an anonymous comment today on the post "A Hard Road To Travel":

'Honestly, I am more concerned about what Jamaicans are doing in Barbados than what they are doing in Jamaica. Today, I read in www.Barbadostoday.bb and the Nation online that three Jamaican men, along with a Bajan man, have been arrested for allegedly committing a string of armed robberies (at least 15) throughout Barbados within the last 5 months. I have long suspected that many of the armed robberies committed in Barbados were being committed by Caricom nationals. Though Bajans commit armed robberies, armed robberies were rare in Barbados until recently. Bajans need to look to Jamaica as an example of what can happen if thugs are allowed to take over a society and fight to stop them before their way of life becomes the norm in Barbados. I feel sorry for Jamaicans, but as long as many of them choose to take to the streets to fight to keep criminals in their communities instead of taking to the streets to protest against them, not much will change in Jamaica any time soon'

This is an interesting set of concerns. On the matter of who is committing various types of crimes, I would say that the nationality is sometimes mentioned in crime reports, but the data I have seen show that the majority of crimes are being committed by Bajans, not foreigners. Who committed the daylight robbery at the Parkinson Memorial Secondary School in late May? No doubt, certain types of crimes do involve foreigners to a high degree, for instance trafficking in drugs: today's Advocate has a report of a 'Vincentian charged with drug offences'. Crimes reported in the press are not the full story--not least because they are a selection--but these have involved a range of nationals, including those from Europe. The last information I say reported indicated that non-nationals are not disproportionately amongst those charged and convicted for crimes. I am not going to make a guess based on people's names. Given that deportation is an option, I have not seen a spate of stories about non-nationals being deported for crimes. It's fine to have a suspicion, but it needs proof, otherwise it's just a plain old prejudice. What would be helpful, would be if the Royal Barbados Police Force gave statistics on the national profile of criminals. That, at least, would give the proof as far as their coverage of crimes go.

The recent discussions about gangs in Barbados was notable in that very little reference was made to active foreign elements, though some had an element of 'copy cat' behaviour. Notably, today, new Senator David Durant stressed the need to take the Barbados gangs problem seriously (see Nation report).

A tendency exists that says bad things come from outside and somehow no one needs to look within for problems. As someone commented on the radio this week, even if a proximate cause comes from outside, it cannot really
take hold unless the conditions are there for that to happen: the host must be receptive. So, foreign influence may be a catalyst, but is not really the cause. Judging from the local scenes I see of children and adults misbehaving, there is plenty of violence that is part of everyday life. I just came from the yard of one private school and saw two young children (about 5-6 years old) 'playing': the boy was chasing the girl and when he caught her, he beat her with a stick. I could not tell from a distance what were the nationalities of the children and I could only guess from where that behaviour had been learnt. I know one parent of the child is a Bajan and past student of the same school. As was also reported today, Professor Linden Lewis, outgoing president of the Caribbean Studies Association, noted that violence seems to have become a banal part of life for many, and he lays part of the blame at the feet of 'globalisation' (see Nation report).

It is a major worry that Jamaican citizens in a community would defend an alleged criminal, but that also ignores that the person concerned may not be committing crimes against the community, but may be using crime and its proceeds to provide goods and services to the community. In that case, people are defending their gains. It points to the failure of other agencies and institutions for not providing and for letting a void exist. The truth is also that most Jamaicans did not rise up in support, and had called earlier for the extradition order to be laid. But, if one is concerned about what has happened in west Kingston, then one also has to decide if the same concern should not apply to say public or elected officials who are accused of misdeeds yet are robustly defended, at least verbally, by their constituents. I can think of some very recent instances in the precincts of Parliament that would fall into that realm. Assuming that in either case allegations have to be proven, the defending of a representative by his or her constituents is not that peculiar.

I would not disagree with any notion of opposing thugs and preventing them from taking over society and having their way. But that means seeing a thug, whoever that may be and not sitting complacency thinking he or she is not local and that they are persons who come from outside.

1 comment:

MaxTheITpro said...

"It is a major worry that Jamaican citizens in a community would defend an alleged criminal, but that also ignores that the person concerned may not be committing crimes against the community, but may be using crime and its proceeds to provide goods and services to the community."

Hey, didn't the establishment see Robin Hood as a menace?? And didn't those brain-dead, hypocritical bible-thumping blue "citizens" give George Bush Jr. another 4 year mandate?? Oh the insanity!! :-)
I have the slight suspicion that Jamaica's leaders say one thing when election time comes around, and do the exact opposite once they're comfortably in office. This flaw in democracy seems to be a universal thing -- especially in governments run by people of African origin. Yes, the truth hurts...but we need to deal with it.

Finally, I like to go back to the lack of well-intentioned PARENTING that's become a global epidemic. Times have changed -- for sure. So this lack of decent parenting (role models, supervision, etc.) manifests itself in so many societal ways that it isn't even funny. Heck, Kenya just did a massive census a few months ago and many feel the population is around 45 to 50 MILLION peeps.

When you have too many people being born in poverty (as in Kenya's & Jamaica's case), it's easy for people to be idle. Fewer available jobs mean more competition which lowers wages. It's simple COMMON SENSE.

Mark my words, issues relating to unchecked population growth is gonna be problemo numero uno -- real fast! Am I correct that Mr. Coke's Tivoli Gardens is a place where babies are having babies and unemployment is unusually high?
Now, contrast Jamaica's population scenario to Singapore's or Germany's. Not even incentives to German women can increase the birth rate there. The irony, eh??