By Glenis Rose
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- Minister of National Security, Peter Bunting, said that the government is placing focus on prevention and control measures as it works to curtail crime in Jamaica, which is seen as the main impediment to the country's economic and social prosperity.
"We just completed a National Security Policy and one of the things it identified was that crime, violence and corruption were the main obstacles to rapid growth and development in Jamaica," the minister told members of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at a meeting held last Thursday evening in the resort city.
"Statistics have shown that our per capita GDP (gross domestic product) would be conservatively three times what it is now and more aggressively, ten times what it is now, if we didn’t have this high level of crime," he stated.
The minister informed that the prevention measures will focus on community intervention through the work of the Citizens Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), among other initiatives.
In terms of control, he said, "We are doing a number of things. The police force is in transition, which is being accelerated. It is more professional, more community-based, shifting an emphasis from a national security emphasis to a citizen security emphasis… realising that it’s the only way that we are going to have sustained success."
The minister urged all Jamaicans to support the police and the related groups and agencies, to put a dent in crime, especially in St James, which has the highest murder rate of all parishes. He said that the aim was to reduce crime to first world levels.
"We want to go to 12 per 100, 000," he stated.
The National Security Policy, which forms part of the administration’s strategic policy response to crime and violence, sets out the new priorities, policies and strategies for the period 2012 to 2017.
Key imperatives include: more aggressive use of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA); focus on key players and their facilitators in illicit activities, such as money laundering; addressing "dysfunctional elements" in the judicial system; accelerating reform of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF); adopting a strong, coherent anti-gang strategy; and rehabilitating communities deemed “at risk”, through regeneration and employment creation programmes.