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Story Highlights

  • Minister of National Security, Hon. Robert Montague, says the dismantling of criminal gangs and degrading their capacity is an important element in the Government’s fight against crime.
  • He noted that the security forces have been given added ammunition in the fight to disrupt gangs through the enactment of stronger legislation targeting these criminal groups and attacking their financial base.
  • As it relates to situational prevention, the Security Minister indicated that this involves measures that will reduce opportunities for crime and violence by including citizen security in the design and development of communities and public spaces.

Minister of National Security, Hon. Robert Montague, says the dismantling of criminal gangs and degrading their capacity is an important element in the Government’s fight against crime.

Minister Montague, who was addressing the opening of the Regional Security Conference on November 22 at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge, said it is estimated that 70 per cent of murders in Jamaica are gang-related.

He noted that the security forces have been given added ammunition in the fight to disrupt gangs through the enactment of stronger legislation targeting these criminal groups and attacking their financial base.

He said the Government will be targeting gangs and the conditions that give rise to them under the broader national strategy to reduce crime and build a safer Jamaica.

The strategy is anchored in five pillars: effective policing; crime prevention through social development; situational prevention; sure and swift justice process; and reducing reoffending.

Mr. Montague noted that effective policing, involving a community-based approach will have the most immediate and obvious impact on crime.

“It requires and relies on the building of partnerships between the police and the citizens that they serve. This is coupled with the traditional law-enforcement strategies that are necessary to deal forcefully with the threat posed by criminal gangs,” he said.

He noted that the Government is committed to building and maintaining a police force that is professional, disciplined, well trained and properly resourced.

Mr. Montague noted that crime prevention through social development is an approach that involves the Government, church, civil society and other partners.

“It seeks to tackle some of the social factors that have been among the root causes of the growth in crime, such as poor housing, inadequate family income, poor parent-child relations, poor educational outcomes, and peer associations that encourage delinquency,” he informed.

As it relates to situational prevention, the Security Minister indicated that this involves measures that will reduce opportunities for crime and violence by including citizen security in the design and development of communities and public spaces.

“It is based on the position that if the physical environment is planned, designed, and managed appropriately, certain types of crimes can be reduced and perceptions of safety increased,” Mr. Montague said.

“Of note, it also involves reviewing existing spaces and seeking to make changes that will lead to safer communities. Removing zinc fences, improving lighting, installing and maintaining street signs, and the introduction of closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) are just some of the ways in which this may be addressed,” he added.

Turning to the pillar of sure and swift justice, Minister Montague argued that delays in apprehension of criminals, prolonged prosecutions and diluted punishment increase the pain of the victims and their loved ones, discourage law enforcers, give comfort to offenders and embolden the criminally inclined.

Reducing reoffending is an important element of the crime strategy, as it involves a policy of rehabilitation that redirects offenders from pursuing careers in crime into becoming productive law-abiding citizens when they return to society.

The security conference, under the theme ‘Policing Security: Strategies and Solutions in Addressing Gang-related Crimes’, was held in collaboration with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (UWI) and the UWI Open Campus.