Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says a coordinated multisectoral approach is needed for crime-prevention strategies to work effectively in St. James.
Speaking at a Violence Prevention and Peace Building Symposium at the Montego Bay Community College in St. James, on September 26, Dr. Chang said that while the social-intervention programmes employed by civil society have reaped some level of success, long-term solutions are needed to tackle the issue of criminality and social disorder in Montego Bay and other volatile communities.
“The churches, the Peace Management Initiative (PMI), the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) and all the others have done a lot of good things, but have failed to effect transformation in Montego Bay, and unless we face that reality, we will not move on to make the required changes,” he emphasised.
In this regard, he said the Government will continue to work to ensure that crime-prevention activities and social programmes are paired with stringent security measures.
“The crime-prevention department of the Government is working with a number of international and local partners to seek to create a kind of umbrella group, and we have come up with a slogan in one case, the ‘Liv Gud’ programme, which seeks to reawaken the sense of community and family identity,” Dr. Chang said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Chang challenged stakeholders to work to create the impact and change needed to restore a sense of hope in volatile communities.
“As we go through our programmes, we need to look at them realistically. We need to look at how we can influence institutions (schools and others), and, therefore, restore that sense of hope and belonging in the wider community. If you are going to engage the community, we have to engage everybody. Part of the challenge which we face in our inner-city communities is lack of opportunity and access,” he further noted.
He advised that the current State of Public Emergency in St. James should be used as “a window of opportunity to reach out and transform, and that is what I am hoping we can do”.
The symposium was held under the theme, ‘Interventions: Making a difference through sharing and collaboration’.
It was hosted by the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA), in partnership with the Ministry of National Security.
Support was provided by a number of ministries, departments and agencies, including the Ministries of Health and Wellness, and Education, Youth and Information, the Jamaica Constabulary Force; the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce.