Community beautification can help reduce crime - But former police commissioner says other actions also needed

February 21, 2020

Former police commissioner Owen Ellington says the beautification of communities under the 'Build Phase' of Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) could lead to a reduction in crime and violence in those communities.

"You can observe a reduction in crime and antisocial behaviour in a vastly improved physical environment. That may or may not be the reason for the improvement in the crime numbers, but it is certainly a motivating factor in getting people to better appreciate the value of being law abiding," he told THE WEEKEND STAR.

In a social intervention report, as of January 31, 2020, Prime Minister Andrew Holness revealed that Denham Town, in which there is a ZOSO, has been in a build phase since March 2018. During this phase, community infrastructures have been improved in an attempt to transform the physical environment.

Have an impact

Ellington, executive director of the Centre for Security, Counter Terrorism and Non-Proliferation at the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), holds that improving the physical environment in which people live will have an impact on the people within those communities.

"It is bound to have an impact on them, both in terms of change in attitude and a greater appreciation of their physical environment where they live. You could possibly engage citizen support in maintaining things the way they are and actually in protecting them so that they don't fall into decay again," he said.

Holness also highlighted other plans under the build phase, including education-based youth development and behaviour modification interventions.

Ellington believes people will be more comfortable moving around in their local environments, and perhaps be more inclined to invest in businesses.

But he cautioned that beautification cannot stand alone.

"If you're just going to beautify an environment alone without working on the minds of people and trying to help them better organise themselves, getting proper governance structures in place and providing opportunities for them to earn decent incomes, then you may find that even the good potential of a beautification programme can be undermined by the actions of those other activities," he said.

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