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The Honourable Olivia “Babsy” Grange has said that she believes that the most important step that the country can take towards controlling crime and violence “is to breakdown that wall that exists between the police and the citizens, especially our young citizens and the police.”
Minister Grange was the guest speaker at the official launch of the National Police Youth Club Council today (February 27) at the Police Officers Club on Hope Road.
She told those gathered for the ceremony that “young people should not be afraid of the police; neither should they be ashamed of cooperating with the police. The police’s duty is to serve and protect all of us, including the youth, not to brutalize them.”
Miss Grange said the reality that she was aware of was not that the police force was unnecessarily brutal in its treatment of the young people but that there was a perception of the police force being anti-youth.
The perception, she said, was spread by those who did not wish to see the police and youth working together.
“And therefore the country has to look to institutions like the Police youth clubs to destroy this myth, remove this perception and open the door to mutual cooperation between the police and the public,” the Youth Minister said.
Minister Grange said members of the police youth clubs could also look forward to being involved in more global issues like the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY), which has been adopted by the United Nations General Assembly as a policy framework and practical guideline for national action and international support to improve the situation of young people around the world.
She said they could seek to influence the 15 priority areas of this policy, as identified by the international community, including some of the most pressing problems facing young people right here in Jamaica. Issues to do with education, employment, health, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, genders issues and hunger and poverty, the Minister said.
The Minister said those were issues which the Government must address but needed the support of institutions like the police youth clubs. “So we are happy for the support that we get from the police through these youth clubs, and the fact that they set such a fine example of using whatever resources are available to them to help to promote things like discipline, self-esteem and tolerance.”
Minister Grange said she wished for the Council every success and “I hope that in the coming financial year, we will be able to provide more resources for institutions like these. But even if we don’t have the money, we cannot afford to ignore you and the work you do, and a way must be found to provide a basis for your continued growth and expansion, I promise you.”
The National Police Youth Club Council was officially launched by the Commissioner of Police, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, who invited the Council Executive and members to call on him whenever they thought he could assist them and said that they could expect his full support for their activities.