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More than 7,000 young people in communities across the island are set to benefit from an expansion of the services under the Citizen Security and Justice Programme II (CSJP II).

This will be made possible through an additional injection of grant funding, totalling some $1.04 billion (£7.25 million), from the Government of the United Kingdom.

The funds, to be channelled through the UK Department for International Development (DFID), are slated to be allocated over the next 24 months, and will facilitate expansion of the programme's services to 11 additional communities, to bring the total number to 50 across eight parishes.

Speaking at the contract signing ceremony for the non-reimbursable financing agreement, held at the Ministry of Finance and Planning's Heroes Circle offices, on September 11, Finance Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, thanked the UK government and the IDB for their contribution to the CSJP II.    

He informed that the expansion will seek to enhance community governance structures, through the engagement of civil society groups in community development and also increase social and economic opportunities for youth and youth-at-risk.

The grant funds will facilitate the expansion of the number of communities under the CSJP from 39 to 50, throughout the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, St. James, Westmoreland, St. Ann, Clarendon and St. Mary. Dr. Phillips also informed that an expected 7,300 young people will benefit from the programmes under the CSJP II.

Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, in his remarks said the CSJP has been an effective initiative in the fight against lawlessness and crime and violence in many at-risk communities.

"The contribution from the IDB and the DFID is very timely, because we face an evolving threat of crime in Jamaica and a lot of it cannot be successfully fought with just policing alone," he said.

Mr. Bunting argued that social intervention programmes, such as the CSJP, are critical to effectively tackle crime and violence in many communities throughout Jamaica.

He charged members of the CSJP project team to intensify their efforts even as they continue to work to make the programme a success. "Although you’ve been getting good praises from the Members of Parliament in the communities that you operate, you need to redouble your efforts to address the evolving nature of the challenges that we face in the communities," he urged.

Meanwhile, British High Commissioner, His Excellency Howard Drake, said he is  impressed with the achievements of the CSJP and has no doubt of the programme’s “great value and what it is delivering in areas facing real challenges."

He noted that the agreement represented "another chapter" in the ongoing partnership between the governments of Jamaica and the UK in a number of areas. "We are keen to help each other deal with our challenges," he said.

Country Representative, IDB, Ancile Brewster, said the institution is very pleased with the DFID's willingness to contribute to the continued success of the CSJP, as the collaboration will undoubtedly redound to the benefit of the Jamaican people.

"What it means is that this additional injection of money, the co-operation between development partners, and the reduction in the per dollar of grant and loan resources provided, augurs well for improved public sector efficiency and performance," he said.

Jointly funded by the Government of Jamaica and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the CSJP was established to reduce and prevent the incidence of crime and violence through social intervention initiatives, and programmes to improve the delivery of judicial services and strengthen crime management capabilities. The programme is implemented by the Ministry of National Security.

The objectives of the CSJP II are: to increase employment and entrepreneurship opportunities; expand vocational skills training programmes and on-the-job training for recipients through vocational schools and non-governmental organisations; and also to implement employment internship programmes and job placement programmes in the targeted communities.