Statement to the Senate by Sen the Hon. Dwight Nelson, Minister of National Security April 30, 2010


The Prime Minister in his Budget presentation earlier this month spoke to the Government’s concern about the escalating crime rate in the country. He indicated some of the measures being pursued to address the problem – strengthening the police force, fighting corruption, the use of technology, and strengthening the legal framework.
Today, as Minister of National Security, I would like to continue the update by providing further details on the strategies being pursued.
There is understandable concern about the levels of violent crime in our country at this time. In recent weeks, the climate has been particularly unsettling, with daily reports of a continuing increase in crime, shootings and murders in particular.
The present level of violent crime is as unacceptable to me as it is to members of this House and law-abiding citizens everywhere. I would like to register my disgust and condemnation of the events which took place in St. James since early Sunday morning, resulting in the vicious murders of five men, and yesterday’s fatal shooting of a five year old girl, the shooting of her father and eight year old sister.
Mr. President, over the past several years, there have been many studies that examined the cause and effect of crime in Jamaica.
These include:
The Report of the National Committee of Crime and ViolenceThe Hirst Report The Wolfe Report The PERF Report
There have been many recommendations and suggested approaches in the search for solutions.
Notwithstanding this, today the problems are worse.
The continuing concern is the significant increase in murders and shootings. Despite this, we have seen a reduction in other major crimes, for example larceny and rape.
Police statistics show a general trend where more than 70 percent of the murders and shootings occur in four parishes – St. James, Clarendon, St. Catherine and St. Andrew.
The main perpetrators are organized criminal networks with transnational links. These criminals exist to pursue crime for profit, and in their quest for more profits and increased criminal market space, we continue to see an escalation in violent crimes.
The police have developed several strategies to deal with the increase in crime and violence including heightened visibility in public spaces and along major thoroughfares.
In St. James, the majority of murders and shootings is driven by disputes over proceeds from the lottery scam and related reprisals. As part of their strategy, the police have:
– increased the number of personnel operating in the parish
– deployed a contingent of the Joint Police/Military Task Force to the area
– established a Street Crimes Unit to target persons involved in the lottery scam and other crimes for profit and disrupt their activities
This unit will bolster the activities of the joint US/Jamaican Operations Linked to Telemarketing, (JOLT) team.
In the last three weeks, several arrests have been made, and millions of dollars in cash and property have been seized.In Clarendon, the drugs for guns trade and extortion are the main causes of the murders and shootings. The main problem areas identified by police intelligence are the greater May Pen area including Palmers Cross, Canaan Heights, Farm, Effortville, Bucknor, Lionel Town, Rocky Point, Water Lane, and Race Course.Street Crime Units have also been deployed to these areas to focus on the drugs for guns trade, the flour for cocaine scam and other crimes, including extortion.
St. Catherine is the hub for a number of major criminal gangs which are deriving huge profits from a wide range of criminality. In St. Catherine North, the crime and violence is concentrated in Spanish Town, De La Vega City, March Pen, Gravel Heights, Tawes Pen, Tredegar Park, while in St. Catherine South, the hot spots are Newlands, Naggo Head, Dunbeholden, Old Braeton, and Gregory Park. In St. Andrew, the police are facing similar challenges. They have responded in St. Andrew and St. Catherine with the introduction of coordinated counter-gang offensives and increased deployment of security personnel.
Simultaneously, the police are intensifying community-based policing in these parishes.
Mr. President, against this background I would like share with members of the House and the nation the policy framework in which we are approaching the fight against crime and violence.
I wish to speak today on two of the eight goals outlined in the updated National Security Policy. These are:
Dismantling organized criminal networksPromoting respect for the rule of law
The key strategies in addressing these goals are:
Building and consolidating local strategic partnerships. This will involve the reactivation and expansion of Parish Crime Committees.
These will:Provide an overarching framework to co-ordinate activities around physical and social crime prevention; investigation, detection and prosecution; and, reducing re-offending. Jointly assess local crime levels and patterns, and develop and deliver targeted interventions to address the matterWill drive the development and implementation of community safety plans
The committees will comprise the Members of Parliament/Caretakers, mayors and councilors/caretakers, police divisional commanders, the Business Community, civil society groups, churches, the Social Development Commission, Parish Development Committees, and essential service providers. We are redefining the terms of partnership between the State and the wider community. In this regard, it is important that we continue to build the trust and confidence that is necessary between the agents of the State including the police force and the citizens.This is a call to the table to fix the problems, and we recognize the community’s right to insist on terms that are agreeable to them.Cabinet has approved the establishment of an Inter-Ministerial committee on Community Security that I chair. This committee will ensure the harmonization of social intervention and crime prevention activities among relevant Ministries.Community action is essential in the fight against crime and therefore we are accelerating the pace of revitalizing Neighbourhood Watches. The new thrust will involve: building the capacity of residents through training and a national social marketing programme to raise awareness and encourage greater participation. The Ministry of National Security will collaborate with the Dispute Resolution Foundation to replicate the Peace and Justice Centre model which has been successful in some communities.A significant number of criminal offences are committed by persons between the ages of 14 and 23. As part of the effort to address this, the Ministry has developed a Youth Offender Strategy to prevent offending, and reduce the risk of re-offending among young people.We are concerned about our ability to protect our borders and the proliferation of drugs and guns illegally entering the country. Of particular concern are areas such as Rocky Point in Clarendon, Hellshire, Manchioneal in portland, Old Harbour Bay, Dalvey, St. Thomas, Iterboreale, St. Mary and Treasure Beach in St. Elizabeth.The Ministry of National Security is intensifying our international cooperation with other countries, particularly the United States, Mexico, South Africa, the Dominican Republic and Haiti in furtherance of the protection of our borders.
In order to enhance the crime fighting efforts of the police, we are continuing to address a number of critical areas.
LEGISLATIONCurrently the Anti-Gang legislation submission has been presented to the Public Order Committee of Cabinet which has examined it in conjunction with the Ministries of National Security, Justice and Finance and the Public Service, the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Legal Reform Department, the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force. Cabinet will be asked on Monday May 3 to approve the issuing of drafting instructions.The DNA Evidence Bill will be an invaluable tool in the fight against crime and violence. The draft bill has been reviewed by the Attorney General’s Department and their comments will be incorporated for presentation to Cabinet. We will amend the Fingerprints Act to enable capturing and storing fingerprints for more than 30 days. This is essential to solving crimes and will coincide with splitting the Automated Palm and Fingerprint Identification System database into criminal and non-criminal components. Mandatory Registration of Subscriber Information for all cellular telephone users in Jamaica is going to be very important in the fight against crime. The anonymity of cellular telephones has been greatly exploited by criminals in the commission of very serious crimes, for example the lottery scam and contract killings.The MNS is steadfast in supporting the six Crime Bills before Parliament and welcomes the support of the Opposition to advance the status of these Bills. Regarding the Proceeds of Crime Act, we will be strengthening the enforcement of the act by increasing the number of agents available to investigate financial crimes, particularly the area of civil forfeiture which will allow the authorities to seize the assets of criminals.
TECHNOLOGYTechnology has also been making a big difference in policing operations. The Ministry has introduced new technologies to strengthen the technical and institutional capacity of the security sector to combat and prevent crime and violence.
The most recent development is the new Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) that will shortly begin operating and serving the needs of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Department of Correctional Services, and will integrate with the Courts. It provides technology that will interconnect the three sectors.
Other important technological applications include upgrades to the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) to improve the ability of the police to solve gun crimes.
CCTV surveillance has proven to be an effective technological input in deterring crimes in many countries. We will be seeking assistance from the local private sector and international partners to expand the provision of CCTV particularly in high crime areas in Jamaica.
The Police Forensic Science Laboratory has been expanded and equipped and is now regarded as the most advanced within the CARICOM Region. By early next month five mobile forensic vehicles will arrive through the assistance of the Government of the United Kingdom. These vehicles will allow us to more efficiently and effectively process crime scenes. In the same period, we will be receiving five mobile police offices that will strengthen our community policing efforts.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force has introduced a Video-ID system which reduces the need for the accused to be present at identification parades. The police have also developed and outfitted the Digital Forensic Unit and the Communications Intelligence Unit.
The police force has also acquired an electronic Facial Identification system which enables a composite of suspects based on descriptions by witnesses.
Mr. President, the Jamaica Constabulary Force has had a major upgrade of its mobile radio network that now serves not only the police but also the Jamaica Defence Force and the Department of Correctional Services; and we have been working to increase the number of available mobile and portable radios.
Our security forces now have the basic resources to meet their operational and strategic telecommunications objectives in the fight against crime and violence in our society.
We have upgraded the technology of the police 119 telephone answering service and we have now deployed a new and well-trained group of civilians sworn in as district constables to man the system. The public will now have much easier access to the police in cases of emergency.
These investments in technology have begun to pay dividends and we expect positive returns as we target criminality and organized crime within our midst.
Mr. President, I have outlined some of the major strategies we are employing in the fight against crime and some specific measures that we have taken to strengthen the arm of law enforcement, empower communities and build partnerships with civil society.
However I want to emphasize that notwithstanding all of this, the security forces cannot be effective in carrying out their duties without the active and sustained help of citizens.
The nature of the threat posed by criminals to our country’s stability and future underscores not only the need for a truly non-partisan approach to crime, but also the need for a new strategic alliance between the law abiding and law enforcement.
Security Threat to Families
The lure of quick monetary reward from scams, drugs, guns and other illegality is bringing danger and death to families.
I say to those involved in criminality… your involvement is placing your loved ones at risk.
I am appealing to all Jamaica to make a special effort to help the police to keep our country safe from the criminals. My message to every citizen is that if you have relatives or friends who you suspect to be involved in scams, drugs, guns or other illegal activities, alert the police.
A criminal offender in a home today, is an immediate security threat to the entire family.
No criminal can withstand the unwavering determination of citizens united in their commitment to put them away.
One of the most helpful things a citizen can do is to provide the police with accurate information on the safe numbers provided: 811, 311 or 1-888-CORRUPT. There is no trace on these calls. Through these safe channels any citizen can make a difference.
We are in the grip of an economic recession and the level of crime and violence is high. There is understandable anxiety. This is a time in our country that challenges all of us to exercise patience, respect and tolerance, even while grappling with hardships. We must resolve to work together to create a climate that is positive and conducive to rising above present difficulties.
I really could not end this presentation without once again recognizing the debt of gratitude all of us owe to our security forces. They put their lives on the line every day for all of us. Some unfortunately have paid the ultimate price.
Mr. President, the truth is national security is everybody’s business. Achievement of our national security goals cannot depend solely on the work of the Ministry of National Security, the security forces and others who have made our security their concern.
There are no easy answers or quick fixes.
Our ambitions for a secure Jamaica won’t be achieved overnight. It will take a transformation of attitudes and practices. Our attitude must be one of zero tolerance for violence, disorderly unsafe and corrupt criminal conduct.
Crime management will always be challenging, but with citizens acting in concert with the police and the Administration against the criminals, we will achieve our objectives for a safe and secure Jamaica.

JIS Social