Jamaica LANDS
Left Alliance for National Democracy and Socialism

Opinion Pieces

These are opinion pieces, written by members of the party. They may or may not reflect the official position of the party.

A Response to Mark Shields' 10-Point Plan

 

About a week ago, Mark Shields put forward "a 10-point plan" that would reduce crime and do other things that he claimed. Mark Shields is a white man from the UK who came to Jamaica to try to fix our crime problems, because the solution - apparently - is having white foreigners run things for us.

To give some background, here are some excerpts from an article in The Guardian:

  • "Mark Shields, a detective chief superintendent with the Met, was dispatched to Jamaica back in 2004. Officially, he had been invited by the Jamaican government. "But I suspect it was with one arm up their back," Shields offers with a knowing smile."

  • "More than 40 years after Jamaica's independence, the British were back in charge of law and order."


How he entered the Jamaican scene has an impact on his views of what should be done here, and you will see it in his 10-point plan. Not all of the ideas were bad, as some are even acceptable, but they demonstrate clear ignorance of the Jamaican reality.

  1. He says we should immediately introduce high-visibility policing on every major road intersection and in every crime hotspot, which he expects to "make people feel safe" - but the reality is that the people don't trust the police, and there is no guarantee that police presence will make the people feel safer rather than that they're living under a police state.
  2. He says that the police should "ensure that every infraction is challenged and, where necessary, prosecuted. Every Jamaican and visitor to Jamaica must see that if you break the law, there will be swift and severe consequences." It's hilarious that white people want to tell us this nonsense when they're forcing us - a country with limited resources - to maintain a rigid austerity programme. The size of the police force has been decreasing, the police are dissatisfied with their wages, and we have a ridiculous judicial backlog and low court case disposal rates, due to lack of resources.
  3. He proposes to "establish permanent police checkpoints at strategic points on every major road leading into large towns and cities in Jamaica" - these would supposedly have cameras that can recognise licence plates, and well-trained police teams to conduct stop-and-search checkpoints. If you set up permanent police checkpoints, the criminals are going to get accustomed to them and find ways to bypass them. Even the mobile stop-and-search checkpoints, which police already do, are in places that the criminals will find predictable over time. Sure, set up all this fancy stuff on major roads as if criminals won't use minor roads, or as if they have to use roads at all when they have boats or feet to bypass an area they may need to bypass after all of this fanciness is set up. Lastly in this point, he says "Create a policing environment where criminals constantly feel vulnerable and law-abiding citizens feel safe" - but "create a policing environment" very much sounds like a police state, in which even law-abiding citizens would not feel safe because of constant harassment by police. It's not like police would instantly know the difference between a criminal and a law-abiding citizen; searches that harass law-abiding citizens may become more frequent, as well as opportunities for police to extort people.
  4. He proposes to have every senior officer interviewed and assess within the first month of their job, and that "Any officer who cannot perform, is incompetent, is linked to corruption or in any other way is not fit for purpose, should be rapidly retired in the public interest." - This idea is not bad, and the assessment period could be for longer than 1 month.
  5. He says to "developing the strategic skills of 10 high-potential police officers. Form partnerships with police services in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Send the future leaders on six-month secondments abroad. This will build up a strong pool of talented officers, any of whom could be the next commissioner." - why should we be copying the policing tactics of white racist countries? Do we really want a replication of what is happening to Black people and Black communities in the US? We already have enough of it, and pushing it further will only build more tensions between police and the people.
  6. He speaks of using technology more, using intelligence-led policing, re-establishing routine meetings on crime hotspots, and using video-conferencing tools instead of having all police travel hours to meet physically. There may be privacy concerns regarding the intelligence bit of this, but the idea to save resources by using video-conferencing tools is a decent one.
  7. He suggests that Murder Investigations Teams be rebuilt, and that detectives be recruited and trained to work in major areas outside of Kingston and St. Andrew; this is also a decent idea. This is not an idea for more policing, but rather an idea for more serious investigation of murders which are already ridiculously high while we have extremely low conviction rates.
  8. He has an idea to take a DNA swab from every persons who is arrested to see if they're linked to any unsolved crimes, i.e. if their DNA matches unidentified samples from other crime scenes. Do we even have the resources to facilitate this? Can our forensics labs handle this extra workload? Do we have enough resources to expand them?
  9. He says to use intelligence to target gangs, and to "Look at the successful anti-gang strategies developed in Glasgow, London, Boston and other cities, and develop equally effective tactics" - this is Jamaica, no the UK or USA. The UK doesn't have Labour gangs and Tory gangs fighting for control of constituencies during elections; they don't have the same situation with strong links between politics and organised crime that Jamaica does. Shields himself should know this, judging from the comments he made in the Guardian article shared above, regarding Bruce Golding and Tivoli Gardens.
  10. His last suggestion is to recruit a team of experienced persons to ensure that his plan is carried out; a 9-point plan sounded weird so he just needed to add something for the 10th.

He then made some after-remarks about how we need to change things to get further support and approval from the US, UK, Canada, and the EU, describing them as "our allies" like any naive person would do, as if the US isn't largely responsible for the presence of politically-affiliated gangs that push drugs.

Predictably, all of Shields' plans are just reactions to a high crime rate, rather than prevention through addressing the social and economic conditions that lead to crime. He doesn't even hint at material support for social intervention or community work, only simply building links with those involved in those projects so that the police can use them for intelligence.

We need both short-term and long-term approaches right now; we need something that puts a dent in the ongoing bloodshed, as well as future plans that steer our society in an entirely different path than allowing crime to balloon so that we need a police state.

 
Christophe Simpson