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The recruiting capabilities of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) should be significantly enhanced, with the opening of two dormitories and three classrooms at the Jamaica Police Academy, Twickenham Park, St. Catherine.
The buildings, officially opened during a ceremony at the institution, Wednesday (December 8), are expected to increase the JCF’s capacity to enlist and train additional staff required to efficiently police the country.
They were constructed as part of rehabilitation activities under the European Union’s (EU) Security Sector Reform Programme, which focuses on the security sector through support mainly for the reform and modernisation of the JCF.
The EU has already disbursed 708, 000 Euro (J$88 million) specifically earmarked for rehabilitation of the Twickenham Park facility. The Academy administers the recruitment and training of entrants to the Force.
“We have added 82 places in classrooms and dormitories. These include the three additional classrooms allowing for an additional 82 trainees, as well as two new dormitories to accommodate an additional 82 resident recruits,” Minister of National Security, Senator the Hon. Dwight Nelson, said in an address read by Senior Director, Human Resource Management and Administration in the Ministry, Aileen Wolfe-Stephens.
He said the Government acknowledged that there is need for constant training of police officers from the recruit level upwards, and is focusing on facilities for police training, as well as academies and other training centres to re-examine how they conduct business.
He noted that Cabinet has approved a new establishment level of 12,000 police personnel, but the Force is still about 30 per cent below that level. The main reasons being the annual attrition rate, which averages just under 300, and the Force’s inability to train the required number of new officers because of the physical limitation of training facilities.
Before the present construction, classrooms and dormitories at the academy had a capacity of 209 recruits in three shifts of four months each, amounting to 627 recruits per annum. The additional infrastructure will allow for an annual increase of 40 percent to 873 recruits per year, which the Minister said, is “quite substantial.”
He also stated that a steering Committee is now in place to oversee the current rehabilitation and refurbishment works under way at Twickenham Park. The Committee is also looking at the total rehabilitation and redevelopment of the facility, into a very modern training campus, to be completed over the next three or so years.
“In this regard, the Ministry of National Security affirms its continued commitment, even in an environment of severe fiscal constraints,” he said.
Head of the European Union (EU) to Jamaica, Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni, said that the additional space created was a significant milestone, and expressed the hope that additional funds, allocated under the Security Sector Programme, will go towards further rehabilitation at Twickenham Park, increasing the number of recruits and strengthening the country’s efforts in the fight against crime.
He pointed out that the EU remained committed to supporting the Government in this regard, noting other complementary activities which the EU Programme is supporting, including civilianisation within the Force; improvement of Information and Communications Technology (ICT); as well as improvement of the recruitment, selection and training process.
“Beyond the Security Reform Programme, we are also providing funding for the refurbishment of police stations, and other Ministry of National Security activities under our Poverty Reduction programmes,” he stated.
Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, said the event marks the outcome of co-operation between the European Delegation and the Jamaican Government, fulfilling an obligation which the JCF has to train the right quality personnel to deliver the kind of service the public requires.
“What we have seen at the barrack facilities and the refurbishment of the classrooms is the kind of signal that we want to send to trainees when they come in here for the first time, because it is the evidence which proves that we have embraced a new paradigm of policing,” Commissioner Ellington said.
He said the JCF was embarking on a programme of transformation driven largely by the Strategic Review conducted in 2007, and that among the areas of priority was training and development, quality of service, leadership and accountability.
“The upgrading and modernisation of the physical plant posed a challenge, and this is where I think the co-operation between the Union and our Government has made a big difference,” he said. He gave an assurance that the JCF will maintain the facilities in the way they were delivered by the contractors.
Implemented by the Government of Jamaica, the programme involves the ministries of Finance and the Public Service, Justice and National Security, and seeks to strengthen the institutional capacity of the JCF, with accompanying measures in the Justice Sector.
The Security Sector Reform Programme came into effect in 2009 and is scheduled to end in 2011. Through the programme, the government is to receive funding of 33 million Euro or J$3.5 billion. So far, 14.082 million Euro or J$1.75 billion has been disbursed.