JIS News

One of the major undertakings of the National Security Ministry, since the administration changed hands last year, was the launch of the Department of Correctional Services’ (DCS) Inmate Work Programme in November.
The initiative engages moderate to low risk inmates from adult correctional institutions islandwide, in the clean-up and beautification of public places. It also provides an opportunity to involve them in productive activity, while instilling in them, sound work ethics. The programme, for which the participants were carefully screened and selected, also aims to prepare them for the world of work once they are released from prison. Additionally, they also earn a stipend for their efforts.
While, to date, the programme has focussed on the clean-up of public places, there are plans to utilise the inmates’ range of skills in other endeavours, which, it is hoped, will be beneficial to the society.
Thus far, 13 projects have been completed, under the supervision of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), in St. Catherine, Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Mary, and Manchester. These involved inmates from the Richmond Farm Adult Correctional Centre in St. Mary, who gave the Zion Hill Primary School, in that parish, a facelift. The work included the painting of buildings, and bushing and cutting of grass on the playing field. Similar activities were also undertaken at other schools in the parish.
Forty-four inmates, from four correctional institutions, also participated in a major outdoor clean-up exercise at the Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre for Women in Port Henderson, St. Catherine. The scope of works included bushing of the property, along the driveway leading up to the main gate at the entrance up to the facility, clearing spillways, removing debris, chopping down overgrown trees, and cleaning the moat.
The following month, inmates, also from four correctional institutions, carried out clean-up activities at the Greater Portmore Police Station in St. Catherine. Additionally, the White Marl Primary and Junior High School in St. Catherine, benefitted from a two-day clean-up exercise, by over 40 inmates from various correctional facilities.
In addition, during this month (September), the Woodlands Primary School in Cross Keys, Manchester, also received a facelift from inmates, in time for the start of the new academic year. Work at the school included painting of the building and fixtures, and general cleaning and bushing of the property.
Meanwhile, in keeping with the Ministry’s thrust to increase the country’s prison capacity, a modern correctional facility, capable of accommodating 5,000 persons, is to be built in St. Catherine, to ease severe overcrowding which currently exists at the Tower Street and St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centres, both of which currently house 75 per cent more prisoners than they were designed to accommodate. The new prison will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology, to enhance the supervision and rehabilitation of offenders.
Two hundred acres of land have already been acquired at Amity Hall in St. Catherine for the project, and the purchase of an additional 200 acres is being negotiated. The new facility will house the male inmates who are currently incarcerated at the Tower Street, and South Camp Adult Correctional Centres, and females from the Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre.
The Ministry has also been working to provide adequate counselling for inmates, in order to prepare them for return to society as reformed, productive citizens. As such, churches and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), provide spiritual nurturing and to some extent, assist with welfare needs. Religious volunteers also conduct services and bible studies. In addition, special facilities are to be provided at the Bellevue Hospital, for mentally-ill inmates.
In the area of law enforcement, the JCF commenced the roll out of the community policing initiatives across the island, in August. The undertaking embraces partnerships between citizens and the police, in addressing the root causes of crime, disorder, and fear of crime.
Eighty officers from Portland, St. Thomas, Trelawny, St. James, St. Catherine, and Kingston and St. Andrew have been trained, and another 20 underwent two weeks of training in Negril, Westmoreland. Their job is to foster relationships with communities, in tandem with other agencies, develop profiles of the areas, identify the challenges and issues, and work with the citizens to resolve them.
The community police officers have been trained in areas such as problem solving, building community trust, proactive responses to situations, and basic physical and social crime prevention strategies, which complement the JCF’s Community Policing Manual, published in January this year.
Additionally, one mobile police station, which was previously in operation in the St. Andrew North and South Divisions, is now assigned to Central Kingston. The JCF plans to acquire more mobile stations in order to take community policing to the citizens, particularly in the rural areas.
Some areas which have benefitted from community policing include Seaforth in St. Thomas, Portmore Villa in St. Catherine South, and March Pen Road in St. Catherine North.
Also, as part of the JCF’s effort to promote community policing and enhance greater safety among residents, a ‘Committee for Community Safety and Security’, was officially launched in Bamboo River, St. Thomas. The Committee will facilitate citizens of particular communities, actively participating in preserving and protecting their areas.
Bamboo River, a socially challenged and unplanned community, was chosen randomly, and is in keeping with Police Commissioner, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin’s mandate, that each police division identify two communities in which community policing strategies will be implemented. The other community in St. Thomas, which has been identified for this programme, is Seaforth.
Meanwhile, the Manchester Police Division signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with the Manchester Chamber of Commerce (MCOC) and several other regional civic organisations for implementation of the ‘Closed to Crime Initiative’, an undertaking aimed at significantly reducing the growing incidence of crime in that parish.
This four-part initiative involves the provision of resources to the police in exchange for quality service. It should see the strengthening of the police’s capacity to prevent, or react effectively and appropriately to criminal activity in their divisional area.
This will focus primarily on the expansion of the District Intelligence Unit, the improvement of the Motorised Patrol Unit, as well as the facilities at the Investigative Unit. The installation of closed circuit cameras at strategic points in Mandeville, is also being considered as a key factor in the crime mitigation process.
Additionally, the Ministers’ Fraternal of Manchester, a senior partner in the Closed to Crime initiative, launched a crime prevention brochure for residents in the parish. This brochure, which the Fraternal drafted in collaboration with the National Commercial Bank (NCB), contains vital information on how children, females, and other vulnerable individuals can protect themselves, using the resources available to them.
Also during the year, Russia in Westmoreland, benefitted from the social intervention services offered under the Citizens Security and Justice Programme (CSJP). Work has already commenced on upgrading of the community’s sporting facilities, and skills programmes are also to be delivered.
Launched in 2001, the CSJP, which is an initiative of the National Security Ministry, is one of the mechanisms through which the Government of Jamaica intends to address some of the grave social ills being experienced by some residents in inner city communities. The programme has also been delivering a range of violence prevention services in the 15 communities in Kingston and St. Andrew and 10 communities in St. James, in which it exists. These include education and mentoring programmes, conflict resolution training, life skills, and parenting education.
In May, the Community Security Initiative (CSI), part of an extensive training programme designed to enhance development in several areas, undertook several training activities in the Matthews Lane and Brown’s Town communities. They were chosen by the security forces, because they were the most marginalised due to the high levels of violence and gang warfare in those areas.
The initiative, which also forms part of the Government’s anti-crime initiative, offered skills training programmes for 80 inner city residents from both communities. The focus areas included food preparation, office administration, cosmetology, and remedial lessons.
In addition, residents from both communities are being prepared to sit Mathematics and English examinations in the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). Last year, 21 persons from Matthews Lane sat CXCs, four of whom were successful in English Language.
Meanwhile, in July, the Government received approximately $1.5 million from its Canadian counterpart as part of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between both countries, which facilitates co-operation in the fight against criminal activities.
The funds, which will be invested in local police counter narcotics operations, are part proceeds from the forfeited account of an incarcerated Canadian drug dealer, who was involved in the trafficking of narcotics from Jamaica to Canada.
MLAT, which was signed in 1999, has seen Jamaica receiving in excess of $2 million from collaborative initiatives undertaken with Canada, to counter criminal activities affecting both countries, among other benefits.
Also, during July, Minister of National Security, Senator Colonel Trevor MacMillan, reported that the new strategies implemented by the security forces, to fight the upsurge in criminal activities were having a noticeable impact.
He pointed out that the number of police and soldiers on the road had been increased, while noting that a number of persons who were wanted by the police for several years had been arrested. This disclosure followed Prime Minister, Bruce Golding’s, announcement of legislative measures to strengthen anti-crime initiatives, which included intensifying policing efforts by increasing patrols and security presence in vulnerable areas across the country, and by targeting crime hotspots with the aim of apprehending those involved in criminal activity and restoring order to communities overwhelmed by gang war.
Other measures were: amending the law to allow for a person to be detained for up to 72 hours without being charged, once authorised by a police officer at the level of Assistant Commissioner or higher; denying bail for serious crimes and repeat offenders for the first 60 days, with a provision for the prosecution to appeal against the granting of bail; the right to non-invasive DNA, such as a mouth swab from a person charged with an offence; establishment of a DNA database; amending the Evidence Act, to facilitate witnesses providing testimony via videotape; and facilitating a majority verdict in non-capital murder.
In that same month, the Police introduced an amnesty for motorists in the Corporate Area, for whom outstanding warrants are in the system for various traffic offences. The amnesty will continue for an unspecified period of time.
The Traffic headquarters in Kingston has over 70,000 outstanding warrants for motorists in the Corporate Area. The offences include disobeying the Road Traffic Act, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving without a driver’s licence and registration plate, and without certificates of fitness.
During August, the joint JCF and Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Task Force began targeting the most serious 20 or 30 of the 150 gangs, which the Police estimate are operating in Jamaica.
The operation of the JCF/JDF Task Force, has led to a number of the most wanted criminals, being held. In addition, the security forces have also begun to apply pressure in hot spots, with the aim of flushing out and apprehending suspected criminals.
In addition, the JCF Citizens’ Charter, was officially launched on August 19. The Citizens’ Charter states the JCF’s intentions to work in partnership with the citizens of Jamaica for a safer country.
The Charter, which was drafted by the Professional Standards Branch of the JCF, stresses respect for law at all times; respect and equitable treatment for all individuals; policing in genuine partnership with the community; commitment to the developmental needs of the Jamaican society; and citizens’ rights and expectations.
Copies of the Charter have been circulated within the JCF since March, both in hard copy and electronic format. Copies have also been circulated to the Justice Training Institute (JTI); the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ); the Media Association of Jamaica (MAJ); the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) and the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).
During the year, the Ministry of National Security, also voiced plans to set up Closed circuit Television surveillance systems (CCTV) across the island, to monitor public spaces, as part of its strategies to tackle crime. The Ministry intends to develop a national CCTV system, that will enable the authorities to better manage major incidents and events including natural disasters and national emergencies. CCTV systems are being developed in Montego Bay, May Pen and Mandeville.
The JCF also established the Community Safety Branch, under which the CCTV falls, as part of its focus on improving community safety. It is the responsibility of this Branch, to advance the implementation and use of CCTV by the JCF on sound operational guidelines, and with effective working practices.
The Ministry is also working with other Government agencies, in particular, the National Works Agency (NWA), which has deployed it own CCTV systems for its traffic management programme.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, Police Commissioner, Rear Hardley Lewin, informed that efforts to “civilianise” areas within the JCF have commenced, citing the Transport and Repairs Division as one such example. The Commissioner, who was speaking at a Rotary Club luncheon at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on September 11, said that in addition to using civilians to carry out administrative work, they are now undertaking a vigorous recruitment drive for the JCF, and the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF).