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Holness calls for CCTV in crime hotspots

Nadine Wilson

Tuesday, January 28, 2014    

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OPPOSITION and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Leader Andrew Holness says he supports plans by the Government to have police officers wear body cameras, but has pointed to an even greater need for closed-circuit television (CCTV) and the registration of

all Jamaicans to better address crime.

Last week, National Security Minister Peter Bunting announced that officers assigned to select police units would soon be required to wear body cameras in light of increasing allegations of extra-judicial killings and professional misconduct.

On Sunday, Holness told attendees at the party's Area Council One meeting at the Olympic Gardens Civic Centre in Kingston that the use of technology to minimise crime is something that he and members of his team have

been examining.

"I believe that one of the tools that we must bring into crime fighting is technology. So, on that basis I am not going to pour cold water on the attempt of putting in camera, because it is our view, that greater technology, greater infusion of cutting-edge technology, must be brought into the whole business of crime fighting,"

he said.

However, he said he was more interested in seeing the installation of CCTV in critical hot spots in the urban areas.

"That one don't have any discretion, that when I am going to commit the crime, I turn it off. That one is always on," he said.

The Opposition leader also suggested that the Government implement a national registration programme so that the State can have records of all its citizens. He noted that a number of people have come to him, in his capacity as a member of Parliament, to sign documents to qualify them for passports, only to realise that they do not have a birth certificate as they were not registered at birth.

"You can't be born in a country and the State doesn't know nothing about you seh you born (or) that you exist. Those things must end," he said, before adding that, "So no more must a man be arrested and you have to wait to ascertain his identity. That mustn't exist in Jamaica."

The Opposition leader also took issue with statements from the National Security Minister Peter Bunting, which suggested that crime was not on the rise.

"Nobody in Jamaica take any comfort that you pull statistics to show that crime isn't rising, because the people in their communities see what is happening and know what they are feeling and they know that no matter what statistics you show them, as far as they can see, crime is rising. It is rising to the level of brutality and gruesomeness," he asserted.

Holness was also very critical of Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, who last Tuesday presented a report in Parliament that identified 18 schools that were most featured in a study sample of the educational background of inmates. The study was conducted by the Research, Planning and Legal Services Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

Holness argued that while there was an obvious link between the education system and crime, the release of the report to the public might result in some level of stigmatisation for the schools identified.

"If he (minister) has such a study, then you don't go public with it, what you do is you call in the principal who is there and say principal, here is some data on the problem, this is a national problem. You use that now to say that we need to make some serious changes in your school," he said.

"What I want to hear the minister talk about, is that in some schools, the behaviour of the students is above the capacity of the teachers and the principals to manage and those students disrupt learning for the majority of students and thereby cause the performance of the school to fall. What the minister must be telling us is what special arrangements, what special measures he will make to pull those students out of school who have those serious behavioural problems and treat with them separately." he argued.

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