Violence on Good Friday
In most peoples minds, Good Friday is associated with religion, kites, marbles and fishcakes, but for many it will also be tied to the brutal murder of Kimwandae Walker on Victor Scott Primary Schools field during a community day.
That unsolved murder, one of many in 2010, shocked the community, and there were hopes that the brazen nature of the killing might persuade people to stop and think about what they were doing.
Recently, while the rate and degree of serious crime remain unacceptably high, there has been a drop in shootings and murders, and the police deserve to be commended for their success in making arrests and securing convictions — a success which must have had some deterrent effect as well.
Thats what makes the outbreaks of violence on Good Friday 2012 so disappointing. When pandemonium breaks out at a party after gunshots are fired, and when a man is injured in a machete fight just yards from a fun day, something is still wrong.
These attacks also seem to signal a change in crime. While less serious than murders, these attacks and recent alleged home invasions suggest that serious crime is becoming more random, which may be a sign of the polices success. As targeting of high crime areas has taken hold, criminals are forced into other areas.
At the same time, it is inevitable that the recession will make people more desperate, leading to more crimes of opportunity.
The police cannot be expected to know where crimes will take place beforehand. Ultimately, the police deal with the after effects of crime, and they cannot prevent it, although successful detection rates and a heightened presence will always be a deterrent. But that does not mean that all criminals will be deterred.
Reducing crime takes a community-wide effort and there is no room for complacency. Dealing with the causes of crime is as important as solving the crimes after they have happened. And finding ways to reduce recidivism is equally important.
Some of these problems are being addressed, but more needs to be done. This newspaper continues to push for the introduction of the Ceasefire programme, as do others in the community. But other means are also needed. Improved education, more meaningful programmes for young people and building stronger families are some of the programmes that are needed. Many organisations, like Mirrors, the Family Centre, the Coalition for the Protection of Children and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, are already working hard in these areas. But more effort is needed.
None of these efforts are made easier by the recession, because some of the solutions inevitably cost money. But the effort has to be made.
And bringing about economic recovery is equally important, because only with meaningful job opportunities and stopping the desperation that many people are now feeling can crime be reduced, and young people given meaning in their lives.
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