Minister of National Security Peter Bunting (2nd left), updates journalists on the government's crime fighting strategies at a press briefing on Thursday. Others (from left) are: Police Commissioner Owen Ellington; Minister of Information Senator Sandrea Falconer; Minister of Education Rev. Ronald Thwaites; and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ambassador Paul Robotham. JIS Photo
By Alphea Saunders
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- National Security Minister Peter Bunting has assured that crime is not spiralling out of control in Jamaica, but admits that it is a serious challenge.
Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, Bunting pointed out that, while murders spiked in the third quarter of 2013, since mid-December there was a 34 percent decline compared to that period.
He pointed out that with the launch of Operation Resilience, by November there was “encouraging moderation” in the murder rate. During the quarter, Operation Resilience launched 346 anti-gang operations; made 361 arrests; and recovered 201 firearms.
Meanwhile, the minister noted that there has been a downward trend in all other major crimes. These include: rape (16 percent); shooting (one percent); and aggravated assault (14 percent).
He reiterated that the government is stemming the future spread of crime through a series of targeted approaches, which involve increased resources to the JCF, with more than 2,100 new recruits added to the Force in 2012 and 2013, and over $1 billion in vehicle purchases for the same period.
Additionally, he said the investigative capacity of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA) is being increased. MOCA and the Financial Investigation Division (FID) recovered more than $1.3 billion in 2013.
Significant improvements have also been made to the Force’s forensic capabilities, the minister pointed out.
“We have doubled the output of forensic certificates over the last two years and eliminated the backlog of post mortems,” he added.
Bunting also highlighted critical laws which have been passed, such as the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) Special Provisions Act; and the Trafficking in Persons Act. The Anti-Gang Bill is to be approved shortly, while the final draft of the DNA Bill is expected this month.
The Minister noted that the recently introduced Unite for Change campaign is a most critical step to combating crime, by reshaping societal norms.
“With a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach, Unite for Change will coordinate a national violence prevention movement, galvanising the support of key government ministries, agencies and departments, the private sector, community based organisations, faith-based organisations, NGOs and indeed, all well thinking Jamaicans,” he explained.