Preventative Detention Will Cause More Harm than Good

As a religious follower of the news, I couldn’t escape the news about the Government mandating the police force to institute preventative detention as a means of helping to curb crime, especially murder, which rose last year by 20 per cent.

First, I must commend the Government for taking this long-standing issue into consideration. However, I am of a different opinion.

Preventative detention, on the one hand, can be viewed as a good move, whereby if Joe poses a threat to his spouse and is detained for 24 hours and be allowed to cool off, as the attorney general puts it, there is a fair chance that a life would have been spared from the ills of domestic violence.

On the other hand, was this decision taken with everybody taken into consideration? To begin with, I have to view it from the standpoint of the youths, as that is the age cohort I identify with.

I know it is said that there must be sound reason for detaining individuals, but what yardstick do we use to measure ‘sound’? Will it be by appearance such as hairstyle, baggy or saggy pants, and the like? If that is the case, sadly, even law-abiding citizens, including university students, will be detained.

There is also a massive trust deficit in police-civilian relationship. How can we guarantee that there will be equity in the steps taken to enforce the law?


Unanswered Questions


The news item further outlined that the press conference ran for a good two hours. Was this the major solution that was devised by those who attended the all-day National Security Council meeting earlier this week? Is this the crimefighting plan? There are so many more questions than answers.

Preventative detention will further exacerbate crime and violence, as an already strained relationship between the police and the citizenry will further deteriorate.

What we need are practical solutions. We have to begin at the community level, as that is where criminal activities are birthed. Foster a partnership among the social agencies such as the Social Development Commission, the youth clubs, religious institutions, justices of the peace, citizens and the police – solutions that will actually help everyone involved so that there will be cooperation and harmony.

Preventative detention will do some good, but a lot more harm.

St. Thomas Parish Chair,