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Minister of National Security, Dr. Peter Phillips has called for cooperation between citizens and the security forces to fight crime and public disorder in the society.
“Unless the citizens have trust in the security forces and until the security forces have respect for its citizens and the two are able to come together as one, it would not be possible for us to win the battle,” Minister Phillips stated.
He was speaking at the Portmore crime prevention and community safety forum held yesterday (March 13) at the Twyn City Restaurant in St. Catherine.
The Minister argued that the illegal drug trade, which had expanded over the past 15 to 20 years, had led to the formation of organised crime groups in rural and urban Jamaica with linkages to overseas criminals. “The drug trade has provided the drugs, it has provide the guns, it has formed the gangs and it has created an international linkage between local criminality and overseas criminals. Have no doubt that we are dealing with serious organised crime in Jamaica,” he stated.
Dr. Phillips called on the residents to mobilise and to prevent the emergence of crime in their communities, especially the involvement of young persons in criminal activities. According to him, too many young people were being socialised into “lewdness, rudeness and uncivilised behaviour” and urged the residents to develop strategies to deal with this problem.
Meanwhile, Cornelius Walker, Superintendent of Police in charge of the St. Catherine South Division, which comprises Bridgeport, Waterford, Old Harbour, Old Harbour Bay and Central Village, informed that 26 murders have been committed in the division since the start of the year and 22 firearms were recovered.
He noted that there has been a reduction in shooting, robberies and break-ins, while the number of rapes had increased over the same period last year. A total of 145 murders were committed in the division in 2004.
Superintendent Walker urged the residents to support the police in their crime fighting efforts. “It is not a matter of what the police is going to do, but it’s a matter of what we are going to do,” he said. The forum was part of a series organized by the Ministry of National Security to encourage citizens to share their ideas in the area of crime fighting. Other fora have been held in Clarendon, St. James and Spanish Town.
Other speakers at the meeting were Minister of Development and Member of Parliament for South Eastern St. Catherine, Dr. Paul Robertson and Mayor of Portmore, George Lee.
The meeting also included workshops on preventing youth crime; illegal sand mining and squatting; improving community safety and security; sex crimes; dispute resolution; drug abuse and rehabilitation; and the reintegration of deportees.