JIS News

The Ministry of National Security will be setting up Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) surveillance systems across the island to monitor public spaces, as part of its strategy to tackle crime.
Minister of State in the Ministry, Senator Arthur Williams, during his presentation in the State of the Nation Debate in the Upper House on July 25, said that CCTV systems are being developed in Montego Bay, May Pen and Mandeville.
He noted that in Montego Bay, there is a public tender out for a CCTV system to cover the Hip Strip, Sam Sharpe Square, and the market area. “This is being partially funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund. Already, the Fund had assisted with the acquisition of a mobile CCTV unit, which is currently in use in Montego Bay. When the new CCTV system is in place in Montego Bay, the mobile unit will be integrated with the system,” he informed.
Also, in Mandeville and May Pen, the Ministry has been working with the Chambers of Commerce in these parishes and has completed the technical specifications of these systems. The final layout and system design should be completed within the next two weeks and implementation should begin by September.
According to Senator Williams, “these three systems will essentially be pioneer systems, as they are expected to be the first of several local systems across the island. Their effectiveness, how they work and perform, will inform the deployment of additional systems. Already, the Tourism Enhancement Fund has said that if Montego Bay is as successful as we are expecting it to be, they are going to work with the Ministry in putting systems in other resort towns in particular, Ocho Rios and Negril.”
“The Ministry welcomes the involvement of these community stakeholders, who have come forward to partner with the Government and the Police in this regard,” he added.
The Senator explained that the Ministry had introduced a CCTV Pilot Project, three or four years ago, as a part of its efforts to restore order to public spaces, but had decided not to implement the second phase of the project, because the design of the system was neither a technically feasible, affordable nor cost-efficient operation.
“So, having learned valuable lessons from that initial effort, including what to look for in acquiring, installing and operating a CCTV system, the Ministry is re-introducing CCTV, as part of its efforts to battle crime,” Senator Williams said.
He noted that the Ministry intends to develop a national CCTV system that would allow the authorities to better manage major incidents and events including natural disasters and national emergencies. “The core of the national CCTV solution would be based in the Kingston Metropolitan Region (KMR) and the intention is that the local CCTV systems should be so designed that they can be integrated into the KMR-based system, and that will constitute the national system,” the Senator explained.
He informed further that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), has established the Community Safety Branch, under which the CCTV falls, as part of its focus on improving community safety. It is the responsibility of this Branch to advance the implementation and use of CCTV by the JCF in Jamaica on sound operational guidelines and with effective working practices.
He noted that the CCTV system is one of the most important technological tools in fighting crime in many countries throughout the world. “It is widely used in the United Kingdom and, since 9/11, is being used increasingly by many other countries throughout the world. It is used by public sector and private sector organizations for a wide range of purposes; from private companies guarding their perimeters and their premises to local authorities and the police protecting public safety in our public places,” Senator Williams said, pointing out that proper use and monitoring of CCTV cameras, ensures safer streets, safer communities, improves public safety, and reduces crime.
The Ministry is also working with other Government agencies, in particular, the National Works Agency (NWA), which has deployed its own CCTV systems for traffic management.
“What the Ministry of National Security through its technical advisors has done, is to develop specifications for CCTV systems, so that if a solution is being put in solely by the Government or solely by private sector interests, or in conjunction, it will be on the same standards and will be designed to be expandable,” the Senator said, noting that there are still a number of issues to be dealt with, including the ownership of the system, governance of the system, maintenance, and future expansion of the system.
“It is the firm belief of the Ministry of National Security that the use of CCTV surveillance systems in public spaces in Jamaica will constitute an invaluable addition to the strategies that we are employing to address the scourge of crime and violence facing our country. We invite private sector business interests to partner with the Ministry in this endeavour,” the Senator said.