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Story Highlights

  • The four mobile security and dispute resolution centres, established recently in three volatile Spanish Town communities.
  • Valued at over $25 million, the facilities were constructed by JSIF.
  • Two centres are located in March Pen (Africa), and one each in Shelter Rock, and Lauriston, serving a population of some 9,700 residents.

The four mobile security and dispute resolution centres, established recently in three volatile Spanish Town communities, have stirred renewed hope for peace and security in the areas, through improved partnership between the police and citizens.

Valued at over $25 million, the facilities were constructed by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), through its World Bank-funded Inner City Basic Services Project (ICBSP).

Two centres are located in March Pen (Africa), and one each in Shelter Rock, and Lauriston, serving a population of some 9,700 residents.

The project involved the retrofitting of 40-foot shipping containers to create mobile community centres. The fully self-contained multi-purpose structures will facilitate mediators trained by the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF) and community police personnel, who will interface with citizens to provide for immediate identification of and resolution of conflicts before they escalate into violence.

The aim is to create an enhanced sense of security, while strengthening community policing through the day-to-day engagement with residents, especially young at-risk youth.

Design of the containers incorporates environmentally-friendly features, including solar systems and self-contained sewage systems. The Ministry of National Security is responsible for maintenance.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, who officially opened a facility in March Pen recently, noted that the centres are well worth the investment and urged residents to make good use of them.

Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, for his part, noted that the idea for the establishment of the centres came from law enforcement, “but was quickly embraced by our partners, because they saw the value in it”.

He said that the aim is to pacify gang conflicts, and remove the criminal elements from the targeted communities, by creating a level of security, where residents can enjoy basic human rights. “We want to establish peace, security and stability for the citizens,” he stated.

The Commissioner said the police is also making accommodation for other forms of public service delivery from these posts.

“The value of having that kind of partnership in the community; the service provider has the benefit of security, because the police are always here, the citizens have the benefit of the presence of the police, which will ensure that the facility is secure, and the delivery of critical service is done in a secure fashion,” Mr. Ellington asserted.

Councillor for the Lauriston Division, Keisha Lewis, said that the establishment of the centres is a welcomed initiative, in improving safety and security and ensuring that “our communities and their members are comfortable to traverse their own space without fear or trepidation.”

Parish Manager for the St. Catherine Social Development Commission (SDC), Gregory Prince, also hailed the establishment of the facilities, stating that “with access to these mobile centres, there can be real-time intervention and mediation in helping to resolve difficulties”.

“With the Jamaica Constabulary Force and mediators having access to these mobile centres, not only will they strengthen the efforts of community policing, but the presence of the police and these facilities should provide an immediate sense of security for the almost 10,000 residents living in and around the recipient districts, affording citizens greater levels of assurance and protection,” she added.

Mayor of Spanish Town, Councillor Norman Scott, used the occasion to encourage persons in the area to work with the Spanish Town Safety and Security Committee to reduce crime.

Pointing to the vast potential of the town, in terms of its historical significance as Jamaica’s first capital, the Mayor argued that: “if we can harness the possibilities that exist, we will see tourists coming from all parts of the globe to know this place called Spanish Town. We have so many things in Spanish Town to show to the world, all we need to do is live good, come together, and we will all achieve.”