The need for a comprehensive crime/policing plan

The need for a comprehensive crime/policing plan


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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Security is a public good to be delivered by the State through its agents and institutions. It provides the means, active and passive, which serve to protect and preserve an environment that allows for the conduct of activities within the organisation or society without disruption (Post and Kingsbury 1991:10). How should security be delivered to the citizenry by the State?

The vision of the Government of Jamaica for national security at one point was to establish a safe and secure environment in which it could focus on achieving a prosperous, democratic, peaceful, just, and dynamic society which upholds the fulfilment of human rights, dignity for all, and builds continual social progress based on shared values and principles of partnership. In essence, the vision was for all Jamaicans to enjoy a better quality of life and realise their full potential.

Certainly, there have been several visions since.

The consistent high crime rate in Jamaica, however, has ignited calls from several quarters of the society for the Government to assure the country that they are working with a well-developed and well-crafted, result-orientated policing/crime plan for the country. It is only reasonable that we should expect the Government to require the heads of the security forces to prepare and present such a plan for ratification and approval. The cognitive vision of a former minister of national security in searching for a new police commissioner then was that the next commissioner should present a crime plan to the Government. This signifies that the then minister had seen the critical need for such a plan. What has become of this vision?

The citizenry has not heard from the Government as yet if such a plan exists, or if the security forces are working with a comprehensive plan to address crime and violence. However, we know for certain that the security forces are actively working tirelessly day and night in carrying out their mandate in this regard.

The question, though, is: Why is there a need for a crime plan?

A plan is a detailed, written proposal for doing or achieving something. It sets up the objective basis for evaluating and measuring performances for desired results. Jamaica's consistent high crime rate demands that such a diligent and audacious approach to policing in the 21st century is critical.

A crime plan will help guarantee a level of assurance that the security forces' approach in tempering this monstrous problem is not just aimlessly nor purposelessly active, but is well-detailed, proactive, and focused. Also, a crime plan is necessary for operational and administrative purposes, and acts as well as a reference document. It must set out, among other things, vision, objectives, resources needed, timelines, cost, etc. Members of the security forces must understand the plan and what the broad objectives are geared to achieve.

Every organisation, institution, or company ought to design a plan as to how it intends to operate and achieve the expected outcome. Therefore, it should be inherent that the security forces, which probably is the largest employer of labour in the country, with the awesome responsibility to serve, protect and reassure, operate with such a plan.

Two governments, Northern Ireland and Berkshire in England, make it mandatory for police commissioners to provide a policing or crime plan each year; certainly, there are others. Professor Sir Desmond Rea, former chairman of the Northern Ireland Police Board, stated that the board has a statutory duty to produce and present a policing plan each year to the Government. Within this policing plan, he said, there is a new objective to ensure that policing with the community is at the core of the delivery of the plan.

Likewise, former Chief Constable Hugh Orde remarked that, “The areas that caused real concern for the people will continue to be targeted through planned targeted policing.” He further said that he and his officers and staff remained focus on the priorities of the people they serve.

Similarly, the former police commissioner of the Thames Valley Police Division in Berkshire England stated that it is mandatory that a policing and crime plan, which sets out the commissioner's strategic policing and crime objectives, be presented each year. The vision is to produce a crime plan which is collaborative and inclusive of stakeholders; this is a critical consideration for buy-in and support.

The point here is that solving crime and violence is both a philosophy (a way of thinking) and an organisational strategy (a way of carrying out the philosophy). The key to the philosophy is the belief that the people of the community might take an active part in the process, with emphasis on the building of a positive relationship between police and the community through sharing of information, and that the people will build relationships and partner with the police in solving crime; as is always said, the police can't do it alone.

When dealing with organised crime, for example, you are dealing with a complex and fluid situation. Some gangs are resourceful and resilient. They will respond to your interventions; they can anticipate your moves; they may have penetrated your organisation and are getting advance information; they will adapt and develop new tactics; and they have influence, cash, and political allies and so on. To deal with such a complex issue you need to have an action plan with priorities outlined, and you have to be smarter, more flexible, adaptive, and resourceful than the gangs.

You need every officer to understand the plan, goals, priorities, and rules. It is impossible to give every problem equal priority, so the plan must provide for the ranking of the crime threats. The rankings then determine the implementation strategy; for example, the type and allocation of resources, collaboration, etc.

One of the foremost responsibilities of the Government must be to provide for a secure and safe environment in which the well-being of the citizenry can be assured and which gives hope towards the development of a prosperous and secure nation. Governments will face the monumental task to rid their country of crime and violence; but the security forces have that mandate. As such, they must produce a plan as to how they intend to succeed in this mandate.

Good policing is all about three things — building relationships that were never built, improving good relationships, and repairing bad ones. Good police work also is about developing positive relationships with members of the communities — no matter who they are, where they live, or what they do for a living. These relationships will make our officers better at what they do and make for a stronger and safer society for us all to live, work, raise our families, and do business. This is why we need a comprehensive crime plan.

I am very confident that the security forces have within their competences the qualifications to produce such a plan.


Christopher Bryan has read for master's degrees in government and national security and strategic studies. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or

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