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Story Highlights

  • Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, on Tuesday, July 14, announced new policy measures to address the current spike in murders.
  • The three-pronged strategy, which he unveiled in the House of Representatives, will focus on strengthening the operational capability of the security forces.
  • Mr. Bunting said there will be a substantial improvement in the operational mobility of the security forces over the next few months.

Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, on Tuesday, July 14, announced new policy measures to address the current spike in murders.

The three-pronged strategy, which he unveiled in the House of Representatives, will focus on strengthening the operational capability of the security forces; address the root causes of societal violence through various social intervention strategies; and bringing important legislation to Parliament to support the investigation and prosecution of criminals.

Mr. Bunting said there will be a substantial improvement in the operational mobility of the security forces over the next few months.

“On the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) side, 60 motorbikes have already been purchased for delivery by the end of this month, and orders for 45 patrol cars, 27 pickups, four trucks and three buses are in the final stages of the procurement process. This will be in addition to 22 vehicles already acquired in April 2015,” he informed.

The Security Minister said the Government recently completed an upgrade of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (APFIS) and the telecommunications infrastructure of the JCF and work is underway to upgrade the 119 emergency call centre.  “The total cost of these upgrades is in the region of $1 billion,” Mr. Bunting said.

In terms of social intervention strategies, the Security Minister said the Ministry has increased its support of violence interruption activities.

So far, 50 persons have been recruited and are being trained by the Peace Management Initiative and Cure Violence in violence interruption methodologies and then deployed back into communities with the highest levels of violence.

“Twenty have been trained and deployed in St. Catherine North since the beginning of June and an additional 30 have been recruited and are scheduled to be trained this month for deployment in St. James,” Mr. Bunting told the House.

As for the legislative measures, the Proceeds of Crime Act has been amended to take the profit out of crime and make it more difficult for the facilitators of money laundering.

Also the DNA Act, which provides a powerful investigative tool to help identify perpetrators and secure convictions, has been tabled in the Lower House.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bunting noted that what the country is experiencing is not a general surge in crime, but rather a spike in murders.

“On a per capita basis, the parishes of St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland have the highest murder rates. St. James has a murder rate of two and a half times higher than the rest of Jamaica,” he pointed out.

The three parishes, which, along with Trelawny, comprise the Area One Police Division, are the areas where lottery-scamming activities are concentrated.  Mr. Bunting informed that a recent analysis by the National Intelligence Bureau found that at least one in three murders in Area One was identified as lottery scam-related and it is suspected that the figure may be higher.

He noted that about half the murders islandwide are categorised as gang-related and earlier this year, there was a significant increase in murders in St. Catherine North as a result of an intra-gang feud. “This has subsided based on a number of initiatives introduced in that police division,” the Security Minister pointed out.

“We can conclude that participation in scamming and gang activities are what place the victims, their families, and friends/neighbours at greatest risk. This is corroborated by studies by the Violence Prevention Alliance, which suggest that only

15 per cent of violent incidents are committed by perpetrators unknown to the victim,” he said.

He further noted that violent crime is “very concentrated” on victims who themselves are involved in scamming or other criminal activities, and in the places where they hang out.

“This should be a warning to parents, families, and neighbours, who turn a blind eye to that youngster who they know is scamming or otherwise ‘mixed-up’,” Mr. Bunting said.