Sun | Oct 2, 2022

No confidence

More than 90 per cent of Jamaicans have little or no faith in national security minister and police commissioner

Published:Sunday | August 14, 2022 | 12:12 AMTyrone Reid - Associate Editor – Investigations
A recent RJRGLEANER Communications Group-commissioned Don Anderson poll revealed that 93 per cent of Jamaicans say they have little or no confidence in the country’s National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang (right), while 91 per cent expressed little o
A recent RJRGLEANER Communications Group-commissioned Don Anderson poll revealed that 93 per cent of Jamaicans say they have little or no confidence in the country’s National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang (right), while 91 per cent expressed little or no confidence in Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson.
Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson
Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson
Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson
Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson
National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang
National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang
Senator Peter Bunting, who is also a former minister of national security
Senator Peter Bunting, who is also a former minister of national security
Keith Duncan, President of the PSOJ
Keith Duncan, President of the PSOJ
Pollster Don Anderson
Pollster Don Anderson
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As Jamaica struggles to solve its crime conundrum, a staggering 93 per cent of Jamaicans say they have little or no confidence in the country’s minister of national security. That no-confidence motion was also moved against Jamaica’s police...

As Jamaica struggles to solve its crime conundrum, a staggering 93 per cent of Jamaicans say they have little or no confidence in the country’s minister of national security.

That no-confidence motion was also moved against Jamaica’s police commissioner, as 91 per cent of Jamaicans have expressed little or no confidence in the country’s top cop.

The crushing confidence findings are contained in an RJRGLEANER Communications Group-commissioned Don Anderson poll, fieldwork for which was conducted between July 16 and 26 and involved interviews among 1,113 people in a nationally representative sample of persons aged 18 years and over.

“Jamaicans appear to have very little confidence in either the minister of national security or the commissioner of police. This is in the wake of the significant levels of crime and violence in the country and against the background of data from the poll which lists our inability to contain the spate of crime in the society as our number one failure since Independence,” pollster Anderson noted.

Asked to indicate their level of confidence in National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang, the largest single response came from 49 per cent of the respondents, who said they had no confidence in the minister at all.

“This view was consistent across all the demographic segments within the population, so that persons, regardless of age, gender or income status, shared this view,” Don Anderson revealed.

Meanwhile, 44 per cent of Jamaicans said they had little confidence in the minister, which the pollster pointed out was not necessarily a positive comment.

Only, seven per cent expressed full confidence in Chang’s ability to handle the tough portfolio.

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It was a similar tale when respondents were asked about their confidence in Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson.

“Views regarding the commissioner of police were similar, with the largest single response being 46 per cent of the persons interviewed, who said they have no confidence in the commissioner,” pollster Anderson noted.

He explained that this view was shared across various demographic groups, with little variance in the responses.

“Forty-five per cent said they repose little confidence in the commissioner, and nine per cent – two percentage points more than the minister of national security earned – said they have a lot of confidence in him,” the pollster added in response to the findings, which have a margin of error of plus or minus three per cent.

According to Don Anderson, the respective confidence levels are a direct reflection of how Jamaicans currently feel about “our inability to control the levels of criminality within the society and have no direct bearing on the perception of the competence of the individuals themselves”.

Up to August 8 this year, Jamaica recorded 909 murders – an increase of 3.3 per cent when compared to the corresponding period in 2021, when some 880 homicides were recorded.

Shootings are down seven per cent in 2022 with 703 such incidents, compared to 756 for the corresponding period in 2021.

Reports of rape have seen an 18.7 per cent year-on-year plunge, falling from 305 cases in 2021 to 248 this year.

However, robberies jumped from 496 in 2021 to 555 in 2022 – an increase of 11.9 per cent over the period. Break-ins are also up by 3.5 per cent in 2022, as the 599 reported cases are 20 more than recorded in 2021.

The Sunday Gleaner was unable to get Chang’s or Commissioner Anderson’s reactions to the poll findings.

But Opposition Spokesman on Crime Senator Peter Bunting said that a sceptical public “couldn’t be blamed for questioning the sincerity” of Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ statement last week that he wanted a “space for consensus on crime between the Government and Opposition”.

“However, when he campaigned on leaving windows and doors open in 2015, he wasn’t interested in consensus. When they abandoned the Unite for Change Initiative, now recycled as Project STAR, they didn’t want consensus,” Bunting told The Sunday Gleaner.

He continued: “When we had the January 2019 Vale Royal talks around the SOE (state of public emergency), where we gave him an opinion that his administration’s serial and routine use of SOEs was unconstitutional, he wasn’t interested in consensus. CMOC (the Crime Monitoring & Oversight Committee) was a mechanism to build consensus, but Minister Chang has stopped attending [meetings] … . That behaviour doesn’t signal an interest in consensus.”

Bunting, who is also a former minister of national security, questioned the Holness administration’s commitment to the Vale Royal talks.

“After many calls to resume Vale Royal by Opposition Leader Mark Golding, one single meeting was held and PR-ed. However, no follow-up meetings or further interest apparently since the PM believes that consensus means adopting his position. But now that the Supreme Court has vindicated our position on the unconstitutionality of the SOE use, and 90-plus per cent of Jamaicans have little or no confidence in the minister of national security and the police commissioner, suddenly now the PM wants consensus,” Bunting charged, while noting that the Opposition would always be open to any sincere and lawful initiative that would improve the safety and security of all Jamaicans.

Keith Duncan, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), said that over the past decades, the country has faced an epidemic of crime, which will not be solved in the short term.

“As a member of the Consensus Monitoring & Oversight Committee on Crime, we have oversight of the deliverables taken from Jamaica’s Crime Strategy, Plan Secure Jamaica. The JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) continues to transform through the significant investments made in technology, mobility, training and community programmes,” he said.

According to Duncan, the legislative work continues as Jamaica’s laws have to be relevant to ensure that the country’s low-consequence environment is changed to one where those who viciously break the law face the consequences– a real deterrent.

He argued further that the social and community transformation initiatives are being built out. And Duncan believes this is where there needs to be what he describes as a cohesive and coordinated national effort to get to the root of the culture of violence.

The PSOJ boss said this effort requires unity at the leadership level in particular.

“More importantly, we need to be united at all levels of society, especially the leadership, as we face down this epidemic in the same way we did COVID-19. In that vein, I will continue to give my support and constructive advice to those who are given the authority to lead our national crime-fighting efforts,” Duncan said.

In response to the poll findings, former police commissioner Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin said his only comment was “leave these two balls to go through to the wicket keeper”.

tyrone.reid@gleanerjm.com

MURDERS IN JAMAICA

• In 2017 – 1,647 with a per capita murder rate of 60 per 100,000

• In 2018 – 1,287 with a per capita murder rate of 47 per 100,000

• In 2019 – 1,339 with a per capita murder rate of 49 per 100,000

• In 2020 – 1,323 with a per capita murder rate of 48 per 100,000

• In 2021 – 1,463 with a per capita murder rate of 53 per 100,000

• And, up to August 8 this year – 909 murders have been recorded.