The Ministry of National Security will be seeking to strengthen the legislative environment, to ensure law enforcement agencies are able to directly tackle current and emerging forms of criminality.
To this end, a draft of the Organised/Anti-Gang legislation is now ready and is being reviewed.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, said the bill is “an omnibus legislation targeting diverse and increasing range of criminal activities that will give us the means to target and dismantle criminal networks."
The Minister’s remarks came in a message read by Director of International Security Relations at the Ministry, Karl Hamilton, at a meeting with 63 members of the Diplomatic Corps on Feb.1, at the Courtleigh Hotel in Kingston, as part of activities to observe Diplomatic Week from January 29 to February 3.
Mr. Bunting also informed that a DNA Bill is now with the Chief Parliamentary Counsel and its passing will enhance the police’s investigative capacity, as well as provide a real alternative to the use of witnesses in serious violent cases.
Additionally, the Ministry, with the assistance of a United Nations-based consultant, is introducing a small arms policy, to improve the regulation, movement and monitoring of small arms and ammunition, both legal and illicit, Mr. Bunting said.
He told the diplomats that the Government, through the Ministry, is committed to continuing the transformation of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), and to accelerate the process of culture change to achieve organisational and procedural reforms in line with modern policing services.
“This year we expect to see the recommendations for legislative and administrative changes to the JCF Act to receive the nod of approval from Cabinet and drafting instructions issued for the enactment of the new JCF Bill,” he said.
“With more than 80 per cent of police personnel now involved in operations, we are determined to continue the thrust to improve the physical conditions, mobility and use of technology of the JCF by providing additional equipment and space,” he added.
He also noted that the seizures of cocaine and marijuana in 2011 increased substantially over 2010, while stating that the police force is aiming to maintain the focus on interdicting drug traffickers.
“We are also increasing the spotlight on perpetrators of human trafficking as we are cognisant that transnational organised crime threatens the sovereignty of Jamaica and that of all our neighbours. As a result, we intend to spare no effort on measures to undermine the strategies of these criminals,” Mr. Bunting said.
The Security Minister informed that the Commissioner of Police has promised to increase in 2012, the JCF’s focus on targeting and dismantling criminal gangs across the island.
He said there has been improvement in the performance of the police and the execution of their legitimate obligations, noting for example, that the number of fatal shootings by police declined by 25 per cent in 2011. “Contrasting this with the increase in the number of persons arrested and charged, we see the gradual movement towards a different style of policing that is consonant with modern policing practices,” Mr. Bunting said.
He said that notwithstanding these achievements, the government is fully cognisant that the level of crime and violence is still above what obtains in partner countries, particularly in North America and Europe and is committed to reducing the levels of all major crimes, inclusive of the technological threat of cyber-crimes.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter