JIS News

Story Highlights

  • A police post will be established at the Spanish Town bus park as part of long-term measures to address crime in the area, including extortion by criminal gangs.
  • National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, made the disclosure on May 7, during a tour of the St. Catherine North Police Division.
  • He said the move came out of a meeting with key stakeholders in the town, prior to the tour, including the Parish Council, operators of the bus park, the police, members of the Chamber of Commerce, and the church.

A police post will be established at the Spanish Town bus park as part of long-term measures to address crime in the area, including extortion by criminal gangs.

National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, made the disclosure on May 7, during a tour of the St. Catherine North Police Division.

He said the move came out of a meeting with key stakeholders in the town, prior to the tour, including the Parish Council, operators of the bus park, the police, members of the Chamber of Commerce, and the church.

At the meeting, the strategies to be implemented were discussed and a working group was established under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioner of Police, Clifford Blake.

The police post, the Minister said, will ensure a permanent police/military presence in the bus park, which has been losing funds due to extortion by criminal gangs.

He said the operation of the bus park will also be overhauled to bring it under the strict control of the Parish Council.

This, he said, will ensure that the revenues it generates go back to the council and into the communities in a legitimate way, and not to support criminal activity.

“We do not want any of the factions (or) criminal enterprises to have access to these funds. We have to establish a lawful system under the supervision of the police and military and ensure that we totally stamp out criminal activity,” the Security Minister said.

“We believe that part of this long-term solution has to be to eliminate the source of funds for these criminal gangs. “As long as there is funding, they will be able to keep recruiting additional persons,” he stressed.

Installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV), to provide additional security in areas in proximity to the bus park, will also be explored.

Residents of St. Catherine North will be engaged in social intervention programmes with the Peace Management Initiative (PMI), Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), the church, and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to change the culture of gang leadership in communities.

It is proposed that the measures will be implemented by early July, with short-term strategies employed until then.

President of the Jamaica Association of Full Gospel Churches, Bishop Rowan Edwards, welcomed the efforts of the Security Ministry to bring order to St. Catherine North.

“I know it is a challenge… but the church is standing with him and several interest groups across St. Catherine are working with the Minister to tame this giant (of crime),” he said.

The Bishop also urged residents to join the fight to “confront those in the minority, who are trying to control the majority.”

The touring party, which included members of the security forces and community stakeholders, visited areas such as New Nursery, Greendale and Thompson Pen, and met with residents, including victims recently affected by crime in the division.