Jamaica government to place increased focus on crime prevention in 2014

Kingston, Jamaica (JIS) — Come 2014, the government of Jamaica will be strengthening its crime prevention strategies, by focusing on community policing and other measures outlined in the national crime prevention and community safety strategy (NCPCSS).

Director of crime prevention and community safety in the ministry of national security, Courtney Brown, said that the ministry has recognised that additional attention needs to be paid to approaches that emphasize prevention.

He noted that for some time the focus has been on crime control, however, he is of the view that prevention strategies, combined with law enforcement approaches, would yield more positive results.

“Crime control has been our traditional approach and has produced mixed results over the years. In the most recent times there has been a reduction in the national homicide rate from 62 per 100,000 in 2009 to 40 per 100,000 at the end of 2012. This was achieved primary, but not solely, through enhanced law enforcement approaches,” Brown highlighted.

He said that greater emphasis will be placed on engaging communities in the crime prevention programmes.

This will be done through strategies such as community policing; restorative justice and alternative dispute resolution; and violence interruption, trauma management, victim support, and child diversion measures.

There will also be strengthening of school safety management capacities, life skills programmes, vocational skills, and employability for the at-risk categories.

“The behaviour change campaign ‘Unite For Change’, recently launched by portfolio minister, Peter Bunting, is evidence of this priority to increase the community’s involvement in preventing crime,” Brown said.

A National conference on youth violence as well as a new citizen security and justice programme (CSJP), which will continue into 2017, are among the early prevention strategies that will be rolled out by the government with the support of international partners.

Brown noted that the crime prevention measures are being coordinated at the highest level through the Public Order Committee of Cabinet.

“These strategies are being supported by a technical working group of key ministries departments and agencies (MDAs); namely ministry of education, labour and social security, youth and culture, health and justice,” he stated.

The director stressed that crime reduction requires behaviour change, which does not happen in the short-term, rather, the results will come over the medium to long-term period following implementation of the various measures.

“More specifically, we expect a reduction in serious crimes and the number of at-risk youth contributing to crime, an improvement in educational attainment and the employability of the target group, also in the physical infrastructure and governance of target communities and of course an overall government of Jamaica service delivery to these underserved communities,” Brown explained.

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