KINGSTON, Jamaica – Most Jamaicans believe the country’s most pressing need is a solution to crime and violence, a new survey has found.
Johnson Survey Research Limited conducted the survey between March 4 and 5 among a sample of 1,008 people from all 14 parishes. Fifty-two per cent of the respondents were males while 48 per cent of them were females. One fifth of the respondents were between the ages of 20 and 24; 29 per cent between 25 and 34; 22 per cent between 35 and 44 and the final 13 per cent between 45 and 54.
Thirty-five per cent of people were self-employed, 23 per cent of them full-time workers and the remaining 11 per cent part-time employees. The margin of error was plus or minus three per cent.
According to the survey 72 per cent of Jamaicans believe solutions to crime and violence are the country’s most urgent needs. This issue is followed closely by unemployment woes, which show a whopping 64 per cent of people saying more needs to be done to create jobs.
Better road conditions and improved access to water are the most important needs according to another 23 and 14 per cent of Jamaicans respectively. The remaining 12 per cent are split equally between increased access to funds and poverty alleviation.
However, when the question was narrowed down to represent the areas in which people lived, a majority of people felt unemployment was the most pressing problem and crime and violence the least.
The majority represented 54 per cent of the sample while only three per cent thought crime and violence was the most pressing need in their community. Bad road conditions were the second most pressing problems with 22 per cent of the sample citing this as the most important issue.
Water problems and community centre needs followed with 14 per cent and five per cent respectively while the remaining nine per cent felt youth activities and unity were what their communities needed most.
Notwithstanding those findings, people believed crime and violence were the country’s most serious problems with 72 per cent of the sample citing it as the greatest trouble in Jamaica. Jobs were second, accounting for 28 per cent of the respondents’ views and poverty which totalled five per cent. Financial woes coupled with the high cost of living accounted for the last seven percent.
Last year nearly 1,700 people were murdered surpassing the previous record of over 1,400 in 2004. So far this year 100 persons have been killed. Although this represents a significant 23 per cent reduction in the figure for the corresponding period last year, murder is still high.
Over the last two weeks, the murders of five children and three women in separate incidents islandwide, have resulted in fresh calls for the reinstatement of capital punishment.
Unemployment has been another wavering problem for the country over the years with unemployment levels standing as high as 11.7 per cent annually. A majority of them are youths who numbered 54,700 of employed people in 2004.
Police and analysts have pointed to unemployment levels as significant contributors to the nations crime problem. A number of youth, police say become involved in gangs that now account for most of the murders committed in the island.
Many of the perpetrators police data shows, are unemployed youth. The police have arrested and charged persons as young as 12 years old for major crimes with figures showing 1,796 males between 12 and 25 arrested last year.