Use of Extraordinary Powers Could be Restricted to Senior Levels of JCF – PM


Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding has suggested that given the evidence of abuse by some police personnel, the use of extraordinary powers could be restricted to senior levels within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
These officers would be subject to stringent oversight and accountability, Mr. Golding explained, as he made his presentation in the 2010/11 Budget Debate in Gordon House, today (April 20).
He noted that Parliament recently passed a Bill establishing the Independent Commission of Investigators, and that this body is to be in place shortly, “so that it can bring a new sense of transparency and accountability to the conduct of the security forces and the protection of the rights of the citizens.”
While pointing out that the public’s outcry against excessive force used by some JCF personnel could not be ignored, he noted also that the police are frustrated at the type of criminal activity they are called on to protect the society from, and the inadequacy of the tools they are given to do the job.
Mr. Golding pointed to several measures that his administration has taken to strengthen the capacity of the security forces, including improving forensic capabilities, restructuring essential intelligence and crime-fighting units, such as the Transnational Crime and Narcotics Division, and decentralising resources to enhance capability at the divisional level.
Meanwhile, he said efforts continue to improve the management of the Force through more rigorous recruitment and training, citing the recent recruitment exercise, in which over 40 of the applicants were university graduates.
Mr. Golding emphasised that crime fighting strategies must be equal to the type of crime that has to be fought.
“For too long we have allowed criminals to test our will and test our willingness to destroy theirs. Societies that face extraordinary threats apply appropriate measures to deal with those threats,” the Prime Minister said, noting that the emergence of terrorism as a transnational threat to the safety and security of citizens has forced countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, to adopt measures that they would never have contemplated prior to 9/11.
“Some instituted sunset clauses or specified review periods, signalling that they knew these were extraordinary measures that they would not want to become permanent but signalling, as well, that when the security of the state is in danger, ordinary measures cannot be relied on to protect it,” he explained.
The Prime Minister pointed out that last year, 18,907 arrests were made, up from 16,582 in 2008, while 569 guns and 6,068 rounds of ammunition were recovered.

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