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Gov't to assist communities with low crime rate

Monday, December 11, 2017

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SECURITY Minister Robert Montague says that the Government will be allocating funds to address problems in communities with very low crime rates.

Montague told the House of Representatives last Wednesday that Prime Minister Andrew Holness felt that there was the need to encourage these communities to retain their low crime environment and had insisted on the funding.

He made the disclosure while explaining to Opposition Members of Parliament the $2.4 billion in additional spending which has been allocated to his ministry in the first supplementary estimates.

The Ministry of National Security budget showed an increase of over a billion dollars in additional spending on facilitating new national security initiatives, including construction and improvements in targeted communities and the purchase of motor vehicles.

It is expected that $310 million will be spent on new anti-crime initiatives benefiting the low-crime communities, including construction and other improvements. That will increase that budget to $660 million for 2017/18.

In addition, $585 million, including $160 million expected from the second traffic ticket amnesty, will also be spent on other security initiatives, including the purchase of motor vehicles and improvements in the zones of special operations, Denham Town and Mt Salem.

The Government is also spending $465.4 million on the purchase of additional telecommunications equipment, and $128 million on improvements to police stations and other buildings owned by the ministry.

Montague told the House of Representatives last Wednesday, however, that his ministry, supported by the prime minister, had sought $9 billion more for spending on crime this financial year. However, he admitted that they ended up with $2.4 billion.

He said that some of the funds were for “off expenses”, including upgrading of training facilities for the police at Harmon Barracks and the national police academy in St Catherine.

“Our aim is, in a very short order, [to] employ an additional 3,000 police officers to put on the streets, right across Jamaica,” he said.

He noted that it must be borne in mind that the target was for training 2,000 new members per year. But with an average attrition rate of 520, that would be reduced.

He said that the ministry has signed a memorandum of understanding with The University of the West Indies and four community colleges to increase training, with theoretical training being done at those institutions and the rest at police training facilities.

He noted too that the ministry will be expanding its CCTV capacity, and will be establishing new Jamaica Defence Force training bases in Montego Bay and Savanna-la-Mar.

He said that the ministry will also be partnering with the National Works Agency to complete a fibre optic loop, “so that we can have Internet at police stations and government facilities and help reduce our telephone and Internet bills”.

— Balford Henry

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