The Government is developing a new National Security Policy, as part of a long-term strategy to address crime and violence.
National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, speaking on February 21 Jamaica House briefing, said the policy will be implemented in two phases, with work on the first phase already 80 per cent complete and should be ready by the end of March. The second phase, he indicated, should be completed “within a month, or two, (there) after”.
Explaining the need for a new policy, Mr. Bunting said that the previous document, developed in 2007, was never implemented. “In 2012, it wouldn’t make sense to be implementing a 2007 National Security Policy. With the passage of time, much of what is (outlined) in that would have been overtaken (by varying factors),” he contended.
According to Minister Bunting, the new policy being developed, will boost the efforts of law enforcement to curtail drug and gun running, by going after the proceeds generated by criminals engaging in these activities. The focus of apprehension will also be expanded to include drug kingpins and facilitators, corrupt public officials, in addition to the street operatives.
“We are creating a multi-agency task force to focus on the corrupt players and their facilitators. For the time being, I’ll refer to it as the National Anti-Corruption Task Force,” the Minister said, pointing out that this should not be confused with the Anti-Corruption Branch, currently headed by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Justin Felice.
In terms of the legislative requirements to support this new emphasis, Mr. Bunting advised the Ministry will look at the possibility of amending the Proceeds of Crime Act to include facilitators.
“We (have) found (that in) other jurisdictions…the courts have the power to, not just to seize the assets of criminals, but their relatives, lawyers, accountants, who were found to be facilitating laundering or hiding their assets and we want to expand the Proceeds of Crime Act to do that,’ Mr. Bunting said.
Another area of focus, over the long-term, Mr. Bunting told journalists, is revisiting the provisions of the proposed Anti-Gang Legislation, advising that the Government had “inherited” a draft from the previous administration.
“But, rather than just table that draft, as it is, we’re having another look at it to make sure that it has all the elements required to make a difference, when it’s passed,” he stated.
Mr. Bunting pointed out that the law enforcement strategy in dealing with gangs has been to confront the members and remove them from communities, with the lawmen occupying the space they previously held.
“But, generally speaking, the hold was for a relatively short period of time. What we want…is, really, more than just confronting the gangs, but dismantling them. The difference is, not only will you clear and hold, but you have to build the communities so that there is not a receptive environment for those gangs to return (to),” he outlined.
Mr. Bunting said the Ministry will be fast-tracking supporting legislation to ensure that the initiatives being implemented work.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter