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Minister of National Security, Senator Colonel Trevor MacMillan, has said that the joint Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Task Force is currently targeting the most serious 20 or 30 of the 150 gangs, which the Police estimate are operating in Jamaica.
Speaking at the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica’s (AMCHAM) Speaker’s Forum luncheon at the Hilton Kingston Hotel on August 19, the Minister said it is estimated that 80 per cent of crime in Jamaica is committed by young men between 15 and 25 years of age.
“They are unemployed, under-educated and school drop-outs. Any major impact on our crime rates will only begin when action is taken on this group within our society. These unemployed, under-educated youths find themselves being lured by others into gangs,” he said, noting that this is another contributing factor of crime in Jamaica.
Senator MacMillan emphasised that education, specifically for the males, was essential in tackling this problem. “When you look at the University of the West Indies (UWI), how many females graduate as against how many males graduate, it is evident that we need to get our young men properly educated and trained and given trades,” he said.
He also informed that the operation of the JCF/JDF Task Force, has led to a number of the most wanted criminals, being held. In addition, the Minister noted that the security forces have also begun to apply pressure in hot spots, with the aim of flushing out and apprehending suspected criminals.
Turning to the work of the Department of Corrections, which he identified as part of plans “to break the back of crime,” he congratulated the Department for the work they are doing “with very limited resources,” while pointing out that “rehabilitation training is absolutely vital.”
“The fact is that when a man or woman goes into prison, if they can come out educated, even literate, with a skill and a trade, the chances of them going back into prison is much, much less,” the Minister said.
On another matter, he pointed to the criminal justice system, which is currently being improved to facilitate speedier trials. He informed that the number of Judges has recently been increased in all three levels of the courts. In addition, two conference rooms at the Jamaica Conference Centre, are being transformed to be used as civil courts, so that the other courts can be turned into Gun Courts. “It is anticipated that this will improve the time it takes to try cases, and this is being actively implemented,” Senator MacMillan said.
Established in May 1986, AMCHAM is a non-profit independent association formed by United States business people and Jamaican nationals, who do business with the United States.