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Junior Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Dr. Donald Rhodd, has said that the Government would continue its preventative action against all levels of crimes perpetrated against and by youths in inner-city communities.
Dr. Rhodd, who was addressing an awards luncheon for participants in the Ministry’s Safety and Security Scholarship Programme at the Knutsford Court Hotel today (Nov. 30), said the government was aware of the eminent threats from “the narcotrade, gun runnings and money laundering, which seek to exploit communities which are economically as well as socially vulnerable”.Seven beneficiaries from inner-city communities each received $15,000 stipends at today’s awards luncheon.
The State Minister said the initiative was timely and appropriate, especially in the context where research data had estimated that there were some 160,000 unattached youth, “meaning that they are not in school, they are not in any training institution, employed or seeking employment”.
These youth, he said, needed guidance and access to opportunities as this was an effective way of shielding them from “being recruited by any organised criminal syndicates”.
According to Dr. Rhodd, the high numbers of unattached youth spoke to the scale of required intervention. While the National Youth Service (NYS) and the HEART Trust/NTA absorbs more than 8,000 youngsters annually, there are upwards of 10,000 youths that were not attended to, he noted. “To date, approximately 159 students have benefited from the scholarship programme. Beneficiaries under the programme attend training institutions and universities. The scholarships awarded under this programme are open to youth in communities in which the Ministry of National Security operates,” he said.
The programme, according to Dr. Rhodd was developed to address “the issue of violent crimes”. He said the Security Ministry “has been employing a menu of social intervention initiatives to compliment traditional police operations, particularly in volatile communities”.
He said this arsenal of initiatives “includes but is not limited to the Peace Management Initiative which is presently operating in Kingston and St. Andrew and St. James; the Community Security Initiative, the Citizens’ Security and Justice Programme and the Safe Schools Programme, as well as the Community Safety and Security Scholarship Programme”.
Dr. Rhodd said the community policing approach acknowledged that whilst the operational side of policing was paramount, these were unlikely to deliver sustainable results in crime fighting without the input of the wider community.
The purpose of the capacity building scholarships is to lessen the likelihood of beneficiaries engaging in violent and antisocial behaviour. In the same vein, Dr. Rhodd said, the government was seeking to decrease the transnational dimensions of crime and this required partnerships with international counterparts.
“In this regard, partnerships have been forged with international institutions such as the Department for International Development (DFID) with the U.K government, the Inter-American Development Bank, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA),” the State Minister said.
The Government of Jamaica in collabroation with the European Commission established the Community Safety and Security Skills Training/Education and Empowerment Programme as part of the Support of the Economic Reform Programme (SERP).
Dr. Rhodd said the programme was helping to sustain the downward trend in crime and increasing skills training opportunities and empowerment programmes.Meanwhile, Charg