JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Manchester Dispute Resolution Association (MDRA), established in July 2012 to assist in the reduction of domestic conflicts, has delivered with noticeable reductions in murder and other related crimes.
  • At the time of its formation, the parish was experiencing a steady rise in familial murders and other crimes, but through the work of professionals called ‘first responders’, at the end of 2013 there was a 16 per cent reduction in family related crimes, especially murders.
  • The Association, while offering training in conflict resolution to community members, also seeks to help those in need to set up small business enterprises, especially in the area of agriculture.

The Manchester Dispute Resolution Association (MDRA), established in July 2012 to assist in the reduction of domestic conflicts, has delivered with noticeable reductions in murder and other related crimes.

At the time of its formation, the parish was experiencing a steady rise in familial murders and other crimes, but through the work of professionals called ‘first responders’, at the end of 2013 there was a 16 per cent reduction in family related crimes, especially murders.

“The statistics were showing that most of our murders, unlike other police divisions, came from domestic situations,” states Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, in an interview with JIS News, as he reviewed the work of the group  he initiated.

“We pulled  together a team, including Northern Caribbean University (NCU), the Custos, the Lay Magistrates, the police, and representatives from the political leadership in the parish. It has trained well over 100 community members to be first responders to domestic violence,” he adds.

The Minister explains that the group’s task is to “identify a situation that is at risk of escalating to become a crime statistic, intervene and refer it to a trained social worker, or a community policing officer, so that a peaceful resolution can be achieved.”

He says that as a result of the success of the group, he has requested the help of psychologist at NCU, Dr. Grace Kelly, to document the work, “so that we can replicate it in other police divisions.”

Head of the Area 3 police division, Assistant Commissioner of Police  Derrick Knight, says the police have made recommendation for the concept to be rolled out in the other two parishes (in the division), Clarendon and St. Elizabeth.

“There is tremendous success since the formation of this Association. The police have given its support, and we continue to support it, because we see it as being beneficial to the reduction of crime and violence in the parish,” he tells JIS News.

The Assistant Commissioner notes that persons who were involved in conflicts did not carry out any act of violence, after speaking with the first responders.

Chairman of the Association, Pastor Michael Harvey,  says members of the  group  are  professional persons, “who are committed to nation building, and really want to make a difference.”

He informs that in an  incident in the community of George’s Valley, an individual made threats against another person, and later that day the person’s house was burnt, and with suspicion and tension high in the area, “we got involved.”

“We went there, met with the individuals separately, and did some counseling; then with the aid of the community leaders and the Councillor, we brought the people together, and they made restitution. It (fire) was caused by an electrical problem,  but the people were willing to assist,” he recalls.

The Association, while offering training in conflict resolution to community members, also seeks  to  help those in need to set up small business enterprises, especially in the area of agriculture.

One beneficiary of a chicken project, Winston Robinson, tells JIS News that he will be expanding, with help  from the association.

Mr. Robinson says he is grateful  to  the group  for assisting  him, describing  their work  as a “good helping hand.”

In the community of Blue Mountain, the association is far advanced in setting up a hydroponic agricultural project for the residents.

Community  member, Lorian West, said she is impressed with what is happening with the venture. “We can succeed through this, because this technique can let us reach far in life. This is a great start for us,” she says.