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Youth curfew

West Kgn residents support police programme to get children off the streets

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, February 04, 2014    

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POLICE were last night scheduled to start a nine o'clock curfew for children under 17 years old in the often volatile West Kingston section of the capital as part of a crusade against crime, winning immediate support from residents.

"I endorse the programme, and all the other residents in Rose Town support the programme fully," said Patricia Stanford.

Peaches Watson, who lives in Trench Town, agreed. "Residents in Trench Town are all willing to work with the police on this programme," she said.

Both women were among approximately 20 adults from West Kingston communities attending the launch of the programme at Denham Town Police Station yesterday afternoon.

"The programme is one of several initiatives that will be implemented in the area, and is part of an effort by the police to return discipline in the area and keep youngsters who are being lured by gangs out of crime," Senior Superintendent Steve McGregor told the residents.

McGregor, who heads the Kingston Western Police Division, said that under the programme, the police will be working with officials from the Citizen Security and Justice Programme to train residents to become community monitors.

"These monitors will be working with parents and family members of children in communities across the division to ensure that young people adhere to the programme," said McGregor.

On the first two occasions that children fail to follow the rules, the community monitors will engage their parents in an effort to get them to comply.

If there is no change, then a third-strike rule will be implemented, resulting in the police visiting the homes and, if necessary, taking action under the Child Care and Protection Act.

The Act states that parents have the main responsibility for the care and protection of children. It also stipulates a punishment of three years in prison for child neglect.

"We have been trying the old way of doing things for too long," said McGregor, who warned that it was time for all stakeholders at the community level to work hand in hand with the police to bring about change.

He said he felt that the only way change could come about in the communities was "through a social revolution".

McGregor also said the police would be working with Jamaica Public Service Company to reinstall broken street lights in the communities as the constabulary moves to increase its presence in areas where criminals are wreaking havoc.

He also said the police would be looking to introduce a programme every other week in communities in the division in order to encourage residents to buy into the community policing concept.

The once-popular 'Passa Passa' street dance, which drew hundreds of people to West Kingston weekly some years ago, will be reintroduced, McGregor said, but under a 'Round Robin' format. Proceeds from the event will be used for community building.

The senior superintendent made it clear that organisers of entertainment events in the communities must ensure that children are not present at the events. Failure to comply, he said, will result in authorities closing down the events and restricting the issuing of permits to such organisers in the future.

"We really happy for this initiative to remove children from the streets at set times," Deborah Ffolkes, a resident of Wilton Gardens (more popularly known as Rema) said at yesterday's launch.

"It grieves my heart when I see how crime affects my community; we really welcome Mr McGregor in West Kingston," Ffolkes added.

Earl Allen, another resident from Rose Town, shared similar sentiments.

"We are really happy that the police are moving in this direction," Allen said, adding that residents were prepared to place their weight behind the initiative.

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