Implications of the Snitch Permit

It is an irrefutable fact that crime and violence is a pertinent socio-cultural issue in Jamaica of tumultuous magnitude. Parishes like Clarendon have been specially challenged with the issue of crime and violence which represents a helpless decay in the moral fibre of our society. In an effort to combat the exponential growth of crime in the parish of Clarendon, the police have declared a motion that that they will no longer grant permits to members of the community for entertainment events unless they offer information relating to gang violence and crimes within the community.

The PNPYO finds aspects of these assertions problematic and unreasonable for the people of Clarendon. As an organization we understand the grave, systemic problem that crime has become and we do commend the Clarendon police for their desire to be diligent and proactive in combatting this social ill but we implore them to take a different approach. In justifying the desire to restrict the dissemination of entertainment permits only to members of communities who offer information to the police, it was postulated that the “informer” culture needs to be countered. The police force is predicating that they would love to start a police informer gang. The reasoning is that “if you have a handful of guys in a particular community trying to hold the community at ransom saying you are the informer, so why not get a group of good guys to come rise up and say we not going to allow you to take over our place and mash up our place.”

The PNPYO will always be congruently in support of action that helps to eradicate social ills in our society but what we are seeing here is potentially damaging. There is evidently some distrust and disconnect between the people of Clarendon and the law enforcers. It is apparent that the police feel that pertinent information is being withheld from them. This is a reasonable concern but to create a symbiotic relationship between granting of permits for entertainment events and informers is dangerous. Removal of creative, cultural and economic avenues for the people of Clarendon is assuredly not going to encourage persons to be more cooperative with the police. The timeless assertion of His Imperial Majesty that “loyalty inspires understanding, understanding leads to co-operation and these are the greatest evidences of strength” holds perfectly prevalent today.

We must accept now that cultural suppression and by extension disallowance of our people to invest in social integration through entertainment is unfair , uncalled for and dangerous. This type of approach to combatting crime could even lead to more crime. If only “informers” are granted permits then they may be at threat to being targeted violently. Entertainment is a industry driven by transparency and everyone has to know who the promoter is to support events. Therefore there is no possible way confidentiality and witness protection can be guaranteed because once a promoter is now granted a permit he is immediately targeted on the “informer” radar.

Crime has never existed in a vacuum and there many other socio-economic ills that help to contribute to the sustenance of this problem. Poverty stricken families with a lack of potential revenue streams has always been a contributing factor to crime in Jamaica. Through the unending brilliance of our Jamaican people and their vibrant, unending commitment to culture; entertainment namely parties and street dances has become a main revenue earner for many aspiring entrepreneurs in the country. Many jobs are created just from local community events namely Dancehall staples such as the soup man, the pan chicken man and even the venue cleaners. If we remove or lessen the potential for persons to earn from these events and fulfill their entrepreneurial aspirations are we not potentially creating more avenues for crime? I reiterate that the PNPYO commends any organization or police force that seeks to find progressive and proactive ways to combat crime in our nation. Despite this fact we would like to urge the Clarendon police to rethink this motion given careful consideration to the thoughtful indictments the PNPYO has placed on them. Our intention is not to be divisive but it is imperative that while we combat various social ills in our nation, we do not disenfranchise and estrange ambition and innocent young entrepreneurs.

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Danishka Williams

Opposition Youth Spokesperson on Entertainment & Culture