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EDITORIAL: Prevention is the right path on crime

MURDERS up, armed robberies up – and the Police Commissioner hoping we won’t go over 100 murders for the year – it’s a bleak situation, make no mistake.

But amid it all, what is our Prime Minister saying? Yesterday, Philip “Brave” Davis said his administration wanted to place more emphasis on crime prevention rather than detection.

Putting all cynicism about party politics to either side for a moment, there is sense in that.

Take, for example, the much-vaunted Shotspotter technology brought in to help police react after shots are fired. The key word there is react – it helps police get to the scene faster, but it doesn’t do a thing to stop the trigger being pulled in the first place. It’s a Shotspotter not a Shotstopper. The current murder count, 85 at the time of writing, shows it is doing nothing to slow down the massacre taking place on our streets this year.

So what Mr Davis is saying makes sense – as long as he follows through.

He said: “We start not from after the murders would have taken place, but we’re going to put more emphasis in prevention rather than detecting because we think that if we work to identify the root causes of our challenges our young people are having that lead them to do what they’re doing, we will be more successful.

“I think over the years, we have put too much emphasis on detecting crime rather than seeking to prevent crime and that’s going to be our emphasis moving forward.”

Interesting of him to say that, given his own role in politics over the years – but he is right in saying that we need to prevent crime in the first place rather than always rushing to the scene in the aftermath.

He says we need to work to identify the causes of the challenges – although those should be well known. Crime is nothing new, and the reasons people are drawn into the criminal world are well known. What we need to hear from Mr Davis next is not more about identifying causes, but on offering solutions.

Will that be anti-gang legislation? Well, that is still in the early stages, to hear Mr Davis say it, with consultation under way with the Police Commissioner and other stakeholders. He said: “When we come up with a plan, you will hear from me.”

One would have hoped that Mr Davis’ administration would have had such a plan already prepared from the campaign trail before coming into office.

Still, these are the right noises from Mr Davis in terms of the direction to be leaning – and we encourage such steps. These steps must come faster, they must be more purposeful, but they are going the right way.

We wish him every success – and we also hope Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander’s hope that there will be no more than 15 murders between now and the end of the year is true.

The stakes are high – and the cost of failure can be measured in lives.