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JIS News

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is reporting that neighborhood watch groups have been successful in reducing crime.
Sergeant Basil Richards of the Community Relations Branch credited the successes to the cordial relationship between police and citizens. “Once there is a neighbourhood watch group in a community, you find that there is a particular relationship between the police and the citizens,” he told JIS News.
Additionally, Sergeant Richards said the groups were encouraged to have regular meetings to discuss issues affecting the community including crime patterns, the fixing of roads or garbage disposal.
“In each neighbourhood watch, we have a police liaison officer, who attends a crime panel meeting and this person sits with the residents and find out what is happening with the community. This information is then fed into the system, which is then used to plan patrol schedules for communities,” he explained.
Citing the Cumberland and Trafalgar Park groups as two successful programmes, Sergeant Richards said: “whatever unusual happens in the Cumberland community in Portmore is reported to the police so you find that criminals do not have a second look at entering communities like those, because .they understand that the residents are bonded and organized”.
Even with the success of the neighbourhood watch programme, Sergeant Richards said more could be achieved with the full cooperation of residents. “Sometimes, persons are not willing to come to meetings. They find excuses as to why they can’t attend, so there is a lack of cooperation with the residents in coming out and telling what is happening,” he noted.
He added that some community members only attended meetings when there was a crisis, “for instance, when something is happening in the community you find a large number of persons attending to find out what can be done to solve the problem”.
He also pointed to the need for succession planning, so that the programme does not suffer when there was a change of leadership.
Approved neighbourhood watch groups benefit from call credit and refurbishing of signs by Digicel.Persons interested in establishing their own neighbourhood watch group can contact any police station for further information.