National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, has re-assured that the government has the political will and courage to implement strategies aimed at reducing crime.
Speaking at a media briefing on his first 100 days in office at his Oxford Road offices on Wednesday (April 18), Mr. Bunting contended that the administration made an “agile but very strategic start” to its term in office in moving to address crime and violence, by developing an approach informed by “careful policy analysis” and by a “strategic partnership” with all relevant stakeholders.
He noted that there were several short-term and strategic policy response initiatives, which commenced between mid-January and early March this year.
These include: increased deployment of Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Mobile Reserve and Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) personnel to hotspots such as the St. Catherine North Police Division, an area, which he said, has seen a “substantial decline” in murders.
Other initiatives, he said, include: heightened focus on the lotto scam in St. James and Hanover; and an anti-gang media communications campaign, aimed at de-legitimizing gangs.
On the policy side, Mr. Bunting highlighted development of the National Security Policy, and structures to implement its provisions, including an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Crime and Violence, and the Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption (MOCA) Task Force, among the initiatives pursued.
The Minister advised that implementation of the short-term responses, in particular, has started to have a “positive impact” in reducing the incidence of crime and violence, particularly murders, which he said have been “falling steadily”.
He pointed out that up to the second week of April, the overall average daily murder rate stood at 2.9 per day, slightly below the 3.1 recorded for 2011. Mr. Bunting was quick to point out, however, that since March 1, the daily average was further reduced to 2.1, which he said was significantly lower than 2011.
“In March, we had the lowest number of murders in any single month for over nine years, and the first two weeks in April are showing further improvement. This outcome reflects the hard work and strategic planning of a very committed leadership of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), as well as the efforts of the dedicated and brave personnel on the front line,” he stated.
Stressing that organized crime, violence and corruption are the “foremost” threats to national security, Mr. Bunting said the administration would not resile from its commitment to safeguarding the nation, assuring that “we will be relentless in pursuing our goal of dramatically reducing the murder rate (and other crimes)”.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter