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A National Security Strategy, which outlines a tactical approach to crime fighting and provides for collaboration between key entities to enhance citizen security, is now before the House of Representatives for review and approval.
The strategy was developed with the assistance of international partners, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom and involved wide consultations with the Opposition, department and agencies across the public sector as well as representatives from civil society.
National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips speaking during yesterday’s (Tuesday Jan. 17) sitting of the House of Representatives, emphasized that the document, which was tabled as a Green Paper, was not a new crime-fighting plan and did not seek to replace current initiatives against crime and violence.
He said the tabling of the paper was intended to provide parliamentarians with an opportunity to review the contents, while noting that it was expected that elected representatives would play an integral role in the dissemination of the document to their constituents to enable public discussion.
The Security Minister said it was hoped that feedback would be received by the end of March after which the document would be formally promulgated with the necessary adjustments as a White Paper.
Dr. Phillips noted that the strategy went beyond the ongoing efforts of the armed forces to defend the country from external threats and maintain law and order, to identifying the importance of other agencies in the broader security infrastructure.
“The National Security Strategy is therefore designed to provide a mechanism for more meaningful cooperation and collaboration as agencies of the state seek to provide an environment that is secure and safe.” Dr. Phillips explained. He added that at a practical level, the objective was to make individuals and organizations more conscious of their roles within the broader security sector and better coordinate their activities.
The National Security Minister said that based on an assessment of the potential threats to the country’s security, eight strategic goals were identified in order to guard against threats. These are: reducing violent crime and dismantling criminal networks; strengthening the criminal justice system; providing protection against potential terrorism threats; border control and protection; strengthening the integrity of democratic institutions; and contributing to regional and international security.
Other goals involve: creating the environment for a stable economy and the effective and equitable delivery of social services, protection of natural resources as well as guarding against natural disasters.
Recommendations for achieving the goals comprise: strengthening the national intelligence systems and establishing a civilian intelligence agency; the establishment of a national task force to strengthen the overall effectiveness of the criminal justice system; enhancing capacities to promote community safety and security and conducting further reviews of critical national security agencies such as the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Jamaica Defence Force and Immigration.
Other recommendations involve the development of a National Strategic Communications Programme to engage the entire society in the process of transformation and establishing a mechanism to ensure implementation of the strategy and the effective coordination of the responses of the various entities.
Dr. Phillips told the House that action had already begun on some of the recommendations, with the JDF already completing a strategic defence review, Cabinet’s decision to make changes in the justice system and the work underway to transform the Immigration, Citizenship and Passport Service into an Executive Agency.
In the meantime, he said that strategies, which showed positive results in curtailing criminal activities towards the end of 2005, would be continued. The strategies include Operation Kingfish, the Hot Spot Strategy, parish and community consultations, interventions under the Citizen Security and Justice Programme, the Community Security Initiative and the Inner City Basic Services for the Poor Project.
Meanwhile, Dr. Phillips said a Major Homicide and Shooting Investigations Team is being organized to support the Jamaica Constabulary Force divisions that are being overwhelmed by high homicide levels.
Come March, work on the new convalescent home for police men injured in the line of duty will be in operation and construction will commence on six new police stations and divisional headquarters.