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Cabinet is to consider a submission for the establishment of a Municipal Court and enhancement of the Municipal Police Force (MPF).

This was disclosed by Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, during his contribution to the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate on June 11, in the House of Representatives.

He informed that a joint submission from his Ministry and the Ministry of Justice has been drafted for presentation to Cabinet.

“It has been circulated to key stakeholders such as the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Ministry of Justice, and the Court Management Services,” Mr. Arscott said.

The Minister explained that there are several deficiencies in the existing arrangement for adjudicating municipal offences, which serve to frustrate local authorities in bringing prosecutions for breaches of municipal laws.

He argued that failure to effectively enforce the full range of municipal laws has many undesirable consequences including: high levels of violations and non-compliance in respect of planning and building regulations; uncontrolled and illegal street vending, particularly in and around principal market districts; and illegal parking and refusal to use designated bus and taxi stands and terminals.

Mr. Arscott told the House that for the Municipal Court to work, the existing MPF must be enhanced through the provision of adequate resources, effective management and direction, and working within clearly defined parameters and in close collaboration with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF).

“While we crave the cooperation of our citizens, it is important that all arms of law enforcement are involved. Attaining an orderly, peaceful, safe and secure society should be everybody’s business. To this end, on May 31 this year, we graduated a new batch of 25 Municipal Police officers,” the Local Government Minister said.

Turning to other matters, Mr. Arscott informed that the Ministry has been making steady progress in the establishment of Parish Safety Committees under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-funded ‘Enhancing Civil Society Participation in Local Governance for Community Safety’ project.

He informed that, so far, there has been the successful implementation of these committees in the pilot parishes of St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Trelawny, and St. Mary.

He further informed that due to the identified need, and the success of the project, the UNDP has awarded an extension from June to December 2013.

Contact: Latonya Linton