Gun crime: young still need help
A string of gun incidents has shown efforts to help at-risk young people must be increased, an anti-violence campaigner said recently.
Desmond Crockwell commented that danger signals had to be tackled at a young age.
He said: “I would be hard-pressed to think that these are 40 to 50-year-olds shooting, or that these young people were not identified at an early age as potentially at-risk or angry young persons in school.”
Mr Crockwell said that he felt that more anti-violence work could be done in schools, including the creation of better relationships with pupils identified as troubled.
He added: “Many of these youth are simply crying out for attention and support that many cannot imagine being without, such as a stable home environment.”
Mr Crockwell, the chief editor of anti-violence magazine Visionz, was speaking after police last Thursday highlighted several gun incidents in North East Hamilton in the past few months including two last week.
Acting Detective Inspector Jason Smith said that two incidents had been reported in the Court Street and Angle Street area over the space of 72 hours.
The most recent incident happened at about 5.45pm last Wednesday when a man entered Bulldogs Bar on Court Street carrying what appeared to be a gun.
Another incident happened near Ambiance Nightclub on Angle Street at about 3.45am on January 4.
Mr Smith said that a man was seen to point what appeared to be a gun at a group of men in a car park.
Three other firearms incidents happened in the area in recent months — on September 14, October 22 and December 22.
Mr Smith added it appeared “feuding among groups of men” was behind the incidents. He said that he did not want to “go into the specifics” of the groups of men involved because they did not want to label the groups as gangs “at this stage”.
Mr Crockwell added that he could speculate on the possible involvement of gangs as he did not know the people who had taken part in the incidents.
He said: “There are people who have the courage to shoot another person, whether they are part of a gang or not.
“Not everyone who is identified with ties to gangs has the will to shoot another person.”
Mr Crockwell added that a criminal lifestyle would always be attractive to some youngsters, “particularly those who may have grown up in and around such activity”.
He said that partnerships between the public and private sectors, along with the Government, in areas that suffered antisocial behaviour could help create opportunities.
Mr Crockwell added: “I remember going to some gang members and asking what would help them change the way they live. The response was work.”
He said that the island had seen a bigger effort to help troubled youngsters “but we still have a long way to go”.
Mr Crockwell added: “In the end the negative behaviour will not stop, but one formula for bad to grow is if good men do nothing.”
He asked people in the community to get together and talk to angry and violent young men and women.
Mr Crockwell said: “Maybe we can help change the mindset of a few. For if we save one, we have effectively saved two.”
Neither Waynes Caines, the Minister of National Security, nor Leroy Bean, the Government's gang violence reduction co-ordinator, responded to a request for comment.