JIS News

Even though the new administration has only been in office since September 2007, the Government, through the Ministry of National Security, has put in measures to deal with the issue of crime in Jamaica.
Minister of National Security, Derrick Smith, speaking at a Rotary Club meeting in October said that focus is being placed on controlling corruption within the security forces, and the entire public sector; dealing with the issue of garrisons and their contribution to crime; transforming the security forces to become more effective anti-crime organizations; introducing improvements to the justice system, which can reassure the public that justice is available in the courts; and developing a programme of social intervention, to complement the work of the security forces.
In keeping with the focus, Cabinet, in November, approved $280 million for a number of initiatives to boost the crime-fighting capability of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). Of the sum, $100 million will be used to effect urgent repairs to several police stations that were damaged during the passage of Hurricanes Ivan and Dean.
“Since Hurricane Ivan, some police stations got damaged and have not been repaired, and Hurricane Dean has further aggravated that situation.so Cabinet granted the $100 million, which will go somewhere in repairing these police stations and other facilities,” Minister Smith stated.
In addition, $75 million has been earmarked to increase the level of mobility within the police force through the acquisition of several motor vehicles, while another $75 million will also go towards acquiring protective gear. The remaining $30 million will be used to carry out repairs at the Police Academy in Twickenham Park, St. Catherine.In November, the new police station was opened in Sligoville, St. Catherine, to benefit some 10,000 residents of 20 communities in Eastern St. Catherine. The new police station replaces the one destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. It is situated on the complex of the recently opened Sligoville multi-purpose stadium and is a gift from the People’s Republic of China.
Also in November, a $69 million contract was awarded to Brighton Engineers for the construction of the Bath Police Station in St. Thomas. The new facility will replace the station, which was severely damaged during Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and since then, police personnel have been working under adverse conditions.
Minister Smith, in signing the contract, indicated that the Bath Police Station will be of a modern architectural design, which will serve as the model for the construction of other such facilities in the future.
In September, Minister Smith and United States Ambassador, Brenda La Grange Johnson, signed a letter of agreement under which the Government will receive an additional $35 million from the United States government to assist in the fight against the illegal narcotics trade. Of the funds to be allocated, $14 million will go towards providing training, equipment, and vehicles to local entities engaged in air and sea port security operations.
The remainder of the sum, Minister Smith explained, will be used for law enforcement, and will provide training and commodity assistance to the Financial Investigative Division and the Tax Administration Department of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, to enhance the country’s capability to fight financial crime, through the seizure and forfeiture of criminal assets.
The effort to improve patrol of the island’s territorial waters saw the opening of a new operational base in St. Thomas by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard. The new base, which was opened on December 7, is located at the old Bowden wharf, a natural deep-water harbour, which was once used as a port for the export of bananas. The Bowden post is the sixth being manned by the security forces across the island. The others are Discovery Bay, Black River, Pedro Cays, Port Antonio and Port Royal.
The JCF, as part of its crime prevention strategy, has trained 40 of its members as crime prevention experts, who are available to provide homeowners with advice on how to crime-proof their homes.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), John McLean, who is in charge of Community Safety and Security, informed that two officers of the JCF were sent to Scotland for an intensive five-week training course to provide expertise on physical and social crime prevention, the use of closed circuit television (CCTV), and architectural designs.
The National Security Minister, in November, announced that the Ministry will be revitalizing the neighbourhood watch and police youth club programmes to build better relations between police and civilians and reduce crime and violence.
“As an administration, the government commits itself to continue to work with the neighbourhood watch organization and we intend to strengthen community efforts by way of the JCF,” he stated.
One of the major undertakings for the National Security Ministry was the launch of the Inmate Work Programme, to engage inmates from adult correctional facilities islandwide in the clean-up and beautification of public places. The programme involves inmates, who are regarded as moderate to low risk and is part of the Department of Correctional Service’s rehabilitation programme. “The prison rehabilitation work programme is a demonstration of the new thrust of this government towards rehabilitation measures in the correctional institutions, while at the same time making inmates more productive by putting them to work during their incarceration,” said State Minister, Arthur Williams, at the launch held at the Horizon Adult Remand Centre in Kingston. Phase one of the programme lasted six weeks from November 5 to December 13, and focussed on the parishes of Kingston, St. Catherine, St. Mary and Manchester. Phase 2 will run for 12-week periods throughout the year beginning on January 7, 2008. Giving details of the projects to be undertaken by the inmates, Senator Williams outlined that two teams of 20 inmates from the Tamarind Farm Adult Correctional Centre will be engaged in clean up activities in Kingston and St. Catherine.
The areas to be cleaned include the May Pen Cemetery; Shoe Maker’s Gully; the area in front of the St. Andrew Technical High School; the Bellevue Hospital to include the Psychiatric Clinic opposite Rae Town; the Barrett Street area in Spanish Town to include the Cathedral Church; and a road corridor in Portmore.
One team of 10 inmates from the Richmond Farm Adult Correctional Centre will carry out work at secondary schools in Highgate and the Richmond Police Station in St. Mary, while four inmates from the New Broughton Sunset Adult Correctional Centre will work at the Cross Keys Police Station and Cross Keys Secondary School in Manchester.
“The selected areas will be cleaned and beautified and importantly, a maintenance plan will be put in place for sustained activity by inmates of these institutions,” Senator Williams said.
He assured that the programme will not pose a security risk. “It will involve moderate to low risk inmates from these institutions, who have been carefully selected so as to enable them to be prepared for the world of work once they are released from prison,” he explained. The inmates, he noted, will earn a daily stipend for their efforts.
A national committee, chaired by Commissioner of Corrections Major Richard Reese and consisting of mainly private individuals, was launched on December 12 to oversee the work programme.
Among the activities that the team will undertake is the establishment of a modern bakery at the Tower Street facility and the expansion of the existing contract between the Correctional Services Department and the Education Ministry for the provision of furniture for schools.
In November, the JCF released a list of 12 of the island’s most wanted criminals, with a bounty of $1 million on each for members of the public, who can provide information leading to their arrests.
In September, 54 students from across the island were awarded scholarships through the annual Commissioner of Police Scholarship Programme, to assist with their back-to-school expenses. This year the scholarship fund is valued at more than $850,000.
New Police Commissioner, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, took office on December 17 and assured Jamaicans that he is committed to making Jamaica a place where peace and security prevails. “My determination is to improve public safety for every citizen and to make Jamaica a place where peace and security prevails,” the Commissioner said.
He said that to accomplish these objectives, there must be change. “Change will not be easy but is essential to move us from where we are, to where we all want to be. every Jamaican has a part to play in this great endeavour,” he stated.