Retired senior cop Newton Amos has called on Government to stop softening its approach to punishing parents who don’t properly supervise their children, adding that Government must seriously intervene in the family structure to achieve sustained reduction in crime.
In an exclusive interview with The Beacon, he declared that delinquent parents should be hauled before the court and their children taken away and placed in properly run state facilities.
“This softening of the approach to hold parents responsible for the conduct or behaviour of their children must cease! The parents must account for the movement and conduct of their children while under their command and control,” said Amos, who also is candidate for the ruling Jamaica Labour Party in St Catherine North West.
He added: “[Let the parents know ‘if you don’t properly supervise your children, I am going to charge you; I am going to put you before the court; and I am going to take away those children from you and put them into government institutions that can cater for them.’ I tell you, nobody wants their children to go into government institutions easily.”
Amos made it clear that his suggestion is not for parents to be charged under all circumstances in which their children run afoul of the law.
He said parents could not be reasonably charged if their children, for example, commit an offence at school, considering that children in schools are under the schools’ supervision.
TESTED AND TRIED
Amos further stated that, while he was in command of the police Area 5, he implemented the measures he is now proposing, adding that they resulted in major declines in criminal activities in areas under his control.
He explained that he hunted down parents and charged them because their children were habitually in the streets and were being used by older criminals to commit several robberies and break-ins.
“I charged them for neglect of the children and I brought them before the court!”
Amos stated that he, along with his team, also started a ‘lunch money programme’ for some of the needy children who were caught in crime.
The 39-year veteran of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) lamented the discontinuation of the clampdown he intensified.
“There is no follow-up in some of the very workable and sensitive programmes that have been implemented in the JCF to treat with some of the issues,” he told The Beacon.
PUT FAMILY IN CRIME PLAN
The former senior cop, in the meantime, reasoned that the family, as well as schools and churches, must be the plank of any crime plan being implemented.
“It is the families that raise people; it is the school that educates people; and it is the church that speaks to people’s minds. So you have to have those at the top of a crime plan… This is the plan that my government and any government needs to start to look at. You cannot leave the family out, because they are the first respondent to treat and to prevent crime.”
Amos also reasoned that, although greater focus on the family through initiatives such as social intervention may appear expensive, it will turn out to be cost-effective.
“Some people are talking about social intervention; social intervention must start in the home. It’s not just looking work and job and create opportunity for people on the street.
“That’s why NIDS is going to be so critical and important to this country’s development. We must know how many children in this household; how many boys are there and how many girls. And the government must be in a position to ensure these persons [have opportunities]. It is going to take a lot of money, but we are going to have to do it,” Amos added.
He said the acquisition of more guns and bullets for the police will not necessarily solve the country’s crime problem.
“You can’t talk bout yuh want more police cars; you want more police guns; you want more police bullets – those days are gone. You need now to control the mindset of those people who are prone to commit crime and violence,” the retired cop posited.
By Horace Mills, Journalist