Jamaica is strengthening collaboration with other countries in the Caribbean in the fight against crime, by sharing capacity through the setting up of a regional Crime Stop call centre.
Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington
The LIME/Crime Stop Caribbean call centre, which is now in operation, was launched on September 20 by Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, and Crime Stop Jamaica at the Commissioner’s office on Old Hope Road on September 20.
Mr. Ellington said Crime Stop has established itself as a very valuable partner in the fight against crime, and that as criminals take their activities across borders, it had become necessary for the Jamaica Constabulary Force to partner with regional forces.
“This has highlighted the need for us to share capacity.the launch of the Caribbean call centre for Crime Stop represents a major step by the private sector partnering with law enforcement to build out the capacity that can make law enforcement more effective by creating a platform for citizen co-operation,” he said.
The Commissioner congratulated the founders of Crime Stop for making the establishment of a regional centre a reality, noting that the JCF had hosted Jamaica’s Crime Stop call centre for many years, and has now committed its full support and co-operation to the regional call centre, and the efforts being made across the Caribbean, to fight crime.
Manager for Crime Stop, Prudence Gentles, explained that the call centre will improve the communication ability of Crime Stop, in assisting other Caribbean law enforcement to fight crime in their countries.
In addition to helping to solve crime at the regional level, the centre will also generate income through an annual charge to the countries, which will benefit from the service.
Ms. Gentles said that revenue earning will depend on factors such as the size of the population of each country, and the number of calls.
With St. Lucia as the first island slated to come on stream, Caribbean Crime Stop will focus on eastern Caribbean states. “We have been told that the eastern Caribbean wants a Caribbean voice answering their calls, hence, why we were approached,” Ms. Gentles said.
Explaining how the system works, Chairman of Crime Stop, Peter John Thwaites said that “in St. Lucia (for e.g.), they would call whatever the number in St. Lucia is, we would get back in touch with the police in St. Lucia, and they would action it.it has nothing to do with crime in Jamaica.”
Mr. Thwaites informed that it is the mandate of Crime Stoppers International to encourage the expansion of this programme across the world. “When Jamaica first joined Crime Stoppers International in 1999, there were only six member countries from the Caribbean, and we now have 11 countries in our region,” he noted.
These are Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Bermuda, Mexico, Barbados, Belize, Antigua, and the British Virgin Islands.
The Chairman pointed out that Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago were the only two countries that answer their own Crime Stop calls. Some countries must have calls answered offshore to ensure that anonymity is not compromised.
Miami Dade Crime Stoppers has over the years answered calls for several of the small island nations, but with the increasing number of programmes being set up and the desire to have a Caribbean voice answer calls, Jamaica and Trinidad were approached to set up a call centre exclusively for the Caribbean region.
Jamaica’s Crime Stop centre has been expanded and equipped to serve this purpose, with telecommunications company, LIME, providing additional telephone service for the centre, which will continue to function with 10 civilian operators, and police personnel.
“We now stand ready to answer calls for any new programme that is launched in the future,” Mr. Thwaites said.