In true Dickensian style, it was good news and bad news at the same time. The headline read: 31 murders, one murder conviction, 34 guns removed from the streets. All of this happened in 2016.
We commend the security forces for their diligence in removing that many firearms from the streets: guns that at some time more than likely would have been or was used in commission of a crime or crimes. Clearly the strategies of stop and search, the profiling, the pressure and the presence are yielding heartening results. We can only hope that the recovered guns – and ammunition – are properly disposed of and would not be stolen from the precincts.
We also congratulate those persons in the community who shared information that resulted in the discovery of the arms and in the conviction of the murderer. While it is unclear whether there were other murder prosecutions, and if so what were the results. Evidently, one of 31 (a 3% conviction rate) is too low a result to engender any sense of satisfaction. We want more; we want TV style results for TV style behaviour!
Meanwhile, we note the Government’s success in establishing additional Courts, both Magistrate and High; and the recruitment of magistrates and judges to speed up the judicial process. If all works well, there will be no more justice delayed. Bravo, bravo! While we have your attention, it is time for Magistrate Courts to have stenographers rather than this dictation that still happens.
Another player in this crime control scenario is the Police as crime scene evidence gatherers. We are putting it to the authorities that better, more consistent evidentiary training is required for our police officers. Their bodies need sharpening (some are too out-of-shape), their minds need sharpening and their writing needs refining. Too many of the rank engage in behaviour unbecoming of an officer of the law and so are not respected while in uniform. Too many of them, especially the new recruits, become engrossed in cell phone activity, oblivious to their surroundings. It is time for basic training and re-training
Finally, a word to lawyers. Prepare yourselves for Court, and stop requesting postponement of hearings. It is a natural and human tendency for eye-witnesses to forget what looks like minute details of a case. A witness who cannot remember the exact date and time of an event that happened so long ago can easily become a discredited witness, as they stumble over details of their statements that were given so long ago. Is this a defense strategy? Lift the profession above such gimmickry!
Let us work towards crime reduction in a meaningful way for 2017.