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Dr. the Hon Peter Phillips, Minister of National Security said that reducing the number of guns in the hands of criminals would be a top priority in the fight against crime. In order to achieve that objective Dr. Phillips said there will be greater use of cargo x-ray technology at airports and seaports.
Other strategies will include improving the capability of the marine police by providing them with more vessels and other resources for adequate in-shore patrol, strengthen the capacity of the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard for adequate offshore patrol, the implementation of the new Port Security Bill and the strengthening of collaboration with international partners.
The Minister was speaking at the Cabinet Retreat on Tuesday February 22, 2005.
Pointing to the need for improvements in the technical capacity of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Minister Phillips said that there was a need to accelerate the improvement of the technological capabilities of the security forces through projects such as the Automated Palm and Fingerprint Identification System (APFIS), the provision of Ballistics Testing and other equipment for the Forensic Lab and Closed Circuit Television (CCTV).
In support of the priority focus of the crime fighting initiatives, the Prime Minister gave the instruction for the funding of a new morgue to be a top priority in the 2005/06 Budget. The new morgue will be built to accommodate the increased use of forensic science in the investigation of criminal activities and prosecution of those involved in criminality.
Meanwhile Minister Phillips said that a new Community Security Initiative will be developed to build and strengthen community capacity to resist attempts at criminal penetration. The initiative will promote crime prevention in at risk communities. Interest groups will be mobilized at the parish and community levels to cooperate in the development of parish specific crime prevention activities. In this regard, the Minister said that the Parish Consultative Committees are to be re-energized and given fresh direction, while Parish Crime Prevention Committees are to be activated in each parish.
Minister Phillips also indicated that four initiatives will be implemented to reduce the flow of guns in the hands of criminals including the neutralizing of criminal gangs, correcting the variables which contribute to the vulnerability of a community to attacks from outside, providing state protection and the development or enhancement of the social capital of vulnerable communities, as well as separating organized gangs from the means of their sustenance.