The Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) criminal records system is now computerized.
Installed at a cost of approximately $98.1 million (£545,267), with funding from the United Kingdom (UK) Government, the electronic database replaces the manual format of documentation at the Criminal Records Office on Duke Street in Kingston.
The facility now enables the JCF to streamline the collation and storage of new and existing data, and their retrieval for use in investigations and court hearings, among other proceedings.
The collaboration between Jamaica and the UK also facilitated training in the use of the technology by several JCF officers.
Installation of the electronic database is the first of two phases of support being provided through the UK-based ACRO Criminal Records Office.
The second will entail further development of the JCF’s fingerprint database for which over $134 million (£750,000) in additional financing support will be provided by the UK Government’s Home Office Conflict, Stability and Security Fund.
The new electronic database was formally launched during a ceremony at the Police Officers’ Club on Hope Road in St. Andrew, on June 3.
Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck; National Security State Minister, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles; Acting British High Commissioner to Jamaica, Her Excellency Julia Sutherland; Chief Justice, Hon. Zaila McCalla; and Deputy Commissioner of Police, Novelette Grant, representing Police Commissioner, Dr. Carl Williams, were among the officials in attendance.
Mr. Chuck, who welcomed the system, expressed the hope that the JCF will utilize it effectively, particularly to keep abreast of criminal activities.
“If we can properly track them and keep them under control, this will assist us in keeping our crime problem down,” the Minister stated, while hailing the British Government as a “tremendous” supporter of Jamaica and the JCF.
In his remarks, Senator Charles underscored the administration’s commitment to the JCF’s modernization, noting that the electronic database is indicative of the priority focus on public safety and national security.
Senator Charles also expressed gratitude to the British Government. “We look forward working with you to expand the capacity of this system, while we explore additional ways to leverage technology into our crime fighting efforts and justice system,” he said.
In a statement, read by DCP Grant, Dr. Williams said the electronic database represents a “milestone achievement for the JCF and a revolutionary move in law enforcement for Jamaica.”
“As a hallmark of becoming a modern policing organization, it is important for us to provide an effective records management service that supports processes of criminal justice,” he added.
For her part, Acting High Commissioner Sutherland described the expenditure as “money that is being incredibly well spent.”
“The work that we (UK Government) do in the security and criminal justice sector is absolutely critical for both our countries for tackling some of the problems that affect us trans-nationally,” she added.
Chief Justice McCalla said the electronic database will be of “tremendous” assistance to the legal system, noting that it “augurs well for the efficiency of our courts.”
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Paula Llewellyn, said installation of the new system is a “wonderful step that will really assist not just the police, but prosecutors.”
Other speakers included: ACRO Criminal Records Office Project Executive, David McKinney, who gave an overview of the initiative, and Detective Sergeant Leston Ferguson, who demonstrated the system.