Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, says the Government is placing increased focus on crime prevention with measures being put in place to target at-risk youth.
He said that while the country has made significant progress in putting a dent in crime, with a 40 per cent reduction in homicides over the last three years, the Government is determined to employ measures for further reductions.
“We have an increased emphasis around prevention. There is hope, we have made progress, and we are determined to continue to make progress, and we want to engage the entire society in this mission, whether in the Diaspora, or locally. We take this on as a societal issue,” he stated.
Mr. Bunting was addressing a session at the 5th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference on Sunday, June 17, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.
He informed that the Ministry is engaging the umbrella group of churches to reach out to targeted groups, and persons from service clubs are mentoring young people in juvenile correctional facilities, many of whom, he noted, have never had a positive role model in their lives.
“We have one group that is working with persons at the Tower Street Correctional Centre that is helping them and teaching them life skills and anger management. We have a group in Manchester that has trained first responders in domestic violence, while many faith-based groups and some of our conscious entertainers partner with us,” he noted further.
He informed that 500 young people are benefitting from an on-the-job internship programme with the engineering regiment of the army, where they are engaged in construction projects, and the number will be increased to 2,000 per year.
“They spend a year; they are not soldiers. They work in developing construction skills; they work in developing hurricane relief homes after Hurricane Sandy. They are doing legitimate construction projects. Transformation takes place with the young people,” Minister Bunting said.
Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, who responded to concerns about praedial larceny, implored farmers to “stay with cases before the courts”.
He stated that many cases involving agriculture theft cannot result in imprisonment or fines, as some farmers refuse to attend court.
He also called on farmers to get registered with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), noting that when they register, it is easier for the police to track and identify stolen produce.
Commissioner Ellington informed that many police stations are open for farmers to do the registration.
Contact: Garfield L. Angus