Gleaner– British High Commissioner Asif Ahmad says the United Kingdom has no plans anytime soon to cease funding anti-violence and anti-crime initiatives in Jamaica. It will continue to throw its full support behind any post-Citizen Security and Justice Programmes (CSJP) initiative the Government plans to initiate.

“We are coming to the end of an £11-million programme. Now, once we have determined how the CSJP morphs into whatever the new intentions of the Government are, then we will be able to consider and reprogramme that type of money … because our intention is to continue to assist,” the high commissioner told The Gleaner in a recent interview.

Ahmad said it was a guarantee that his European Union (EU) and North American counterparts will not be abandoning Jamaica either, as they are “all committed to helping Jamaica deal with its crime, homicide and its interventions”.

“The EU has €23 million that it is looking to channel into the social intervention space. I can’t give you the figures for the US and Canada, but these are committed partners; they have been at this for a long time. None of us are going to walk away,” he explained.

Revealing that he and his colleagues see crime as one of the biggest existential threat to Jamaica, Ahmad stated that if the impact is taken away, the “GDP (gross domestic product) growth could rise by anything up to one per cent; corruption could take away another 0.5; so there is a 1.5 per cent of growth waiting to happen,” he added.

COHERENT CRIME PLAN NEEDED

In order for the funding efforts to work, Ahmad said the Government needs to come up with a “coherent master plan for crime”, which examines violence from the grass-roots level and which has cross-party support to ensure there is total confidence, “in the same way that the financial crisis was dealt with, that this will be something that will be beyond cycles of Government”.

“There needs to be good evidence-based thinking so that the policy follows that. Where I think there would be real benefits – and I think the minister of national security has sought to articulate this – is that you need to look at problems from an individual to their domestic circumstances, the immediate community in which they live, then go right out there to the wider community, the parish, the country, the region that you are in, because some of the crime is international; some of the opportunities are international,” he said.

Reiterating his country’s commitment, Ahmad said there was an agreement to fund the new commission on violence, set up to understand properly and act on why there is inherent violence in some communities and individuals. “Why does a small incident at the home or in the street escalate into uncontrolled, disproportions of violence?” the high commissioner questioned.

Pointing out the causation, he said if one looks at violence in Jamaica, the most reliable statistics are actually admissions in hospital with gunshot wounds and stabbings, not police reports.