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December 7, 2013
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Three-pronged crime-prevention strategy launched

Leaders and experts in crime fighting and prevention, along with a host of other stakeholders, including members of the Diplomatic Corps, came together on Thursday, December 5, to launch the National Security Ministry's three-pronged crime-prevention strategy, 'United for Change'.

United for Change seeks to rekindle hope in the society and mobilise law-abiding citizens to work together as a united front against crime.

Addressing a full room at the Police Officers' Club on Hope Road in Kingston, National Security Minister Peter Bunting pinpointed trends in crime and violence over the years and outlined the major steps that the Government has taken to cauterise the problem.

The initiative, Bunting said, is founded on the strategies of interrupting crime, particularly gang activities; preventing the spread of these activities; and changing group behaviours.

Among the innovations being developed to empower citizens in the fight against crime is a mobile application, which will offer Jamaicans the opportunity to engage several modes of alerting the police, reporting crime, or seeking assistance.

The application will be launched by the end of January 2014, the minister said.

Another key initiative emerging from this multi-sectoral approach to crime fighting is the National Youth Violence Prevention Forum, to be launched in January.

"I am hoping that at this forum, we can get the buy-in of the wider partnership to share best practices and figure out collectively how we can increase the awareness drive and build local capacity," Bunting said.

There is also the social intervention thrust through the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) III. The CSJP focuses on social cohesion and community governance, and employment.

Bunting said Cabinet had approved the programme, which will run for four to five years. It is a US$55 million intervention funded by the Canadian and British governments and the Inter-American Development Bank.

As regards preventing the spread of crime and medium-term solutions, the minister said this involves capacity building. The focus has, therefore, been on recommendations set out for the development of a national security policy. Among these are removing the profit from crime, which is being targeted by the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force; reform of the justice system; community policing; dismantling of gangs; focus on at-risk individuals (CSJP); and the strengthening of legislation.

Speaking to the latter, Bunting outlined several pieces of legislation that have been passed or are now going through Parliament such as the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA); the Evidence Special Measures Act; the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provision) Act; the Anti-gang Bill; the Trafficking in Persons Bill; the Maritime Drug Trafficking Suppression Act (approved by Cabinet); and the DNA Evidence Bill (final draft being awaited).

The minister noted that a number of convictions had been made under the Law Reform Fraudulent Transactions (Special Provision) Act since it was passed in March. He said another 50 persons were now before the courts with 'relatively strong' charges.

Deliberations on the anti-gang legislation should be completed by the joint select Committee of Parliament by next week, the minister said.

Additionally, the capacity of the force to respond to crime has been improved through a number of measures, including the acquisition of new vehicles at a cost of over $1 billion. Bunting said this is thrice what was spent on vehicles in previous years.

By March 2014, 1,300 JCF recruits will be trained, including Island Special Constabulary Force recruits and district constables.

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