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Minister of National Security, Dr. Peter Phillips has said the Ministry would soon be embarking on Safe Communities Policy, which would involve collaboration between Government agencies, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), the police, and the community.
The Safer Communities Policy is aimed at harmonizing the initiatives of the Ministry of National Security that focus on improving the safety of communities, and will provide for improved coordination, cooperation and collaboration with other government programmes with similar objectives.
“The policy is set in the context of the adoption by the Jamaica Constabulary Force of a community policing philosophy, which raises the expectation of citizens for a high quality police service,” Dr. Phillips said as he addressed the second annual Safe School Conference today (Nov. 21) at the Jamaica Conference Centre.
He added that the policy would “outline the role to be performed by the principal partners and facilitate a more rational allocation and utilization of resources”.
The policy aims to improve the safety of communities by strengthening partnerships between citizens’ organizations, the police and the social agencies of the state that are working towards improving the physical and social safety of their local communities.
Addressing the issue of safe schools and the community, Dr. Phillips said that schools do not exist in a vacuum, but they were a part of their communities.”If communities are safe it follows logically that we are likely to have safe schools. The broader focus therefore is to ensure that our communities are safe from marauding criminals who are enemies of law and order and whose industry is mayhem and death,” informed Dr. Phillips.
He added that “community safety involves a wider range of activities that are aimed at reducing injury due to violence, accidents or other catastrophe. Community safety is therefore concerned with more than violence and crime prevention. It also focuses attention on the social capital within communities and the broader safety issues including road safety, fire safety and the safety of the elderly and children”.
“The renewed thrust for safer communities will therefore be building on an established foundation and will seek to harness additional inputs from community organizations, businesses, youth, citizens’ associations and schools,” Dr. Phillips said.
He also disclosed that a set of indicators have been finalized to assist in articulating the vision for safe schools.
“A draft school safety assessment checklist has also been prepared to aid schools in assessing their progress towards becoming safer schools. This draft is currently being reviewed. The intention is for all Jamaica’s schools to work towards becoming a ‘safe school’ in the context of a safe community,” Dr. Phillips said.
The Safe Schools Programme was launched in 2004 and is a collaborative effort of the Government of Jamaica. The programme aims to reduce the incidence of violence and anti-social behaviour affecting schools in Jamaica.