Police launch ‘supervised curfew’ in St James … 9 p.m. cut-off time for under-17 children
The volatile communities of Rose Heights and Mt Salem, St James, were chosen by the parish's police high command for their newest anti-crime strategy, a Police Supervised Curfew Initiative, targeting underage youths who are being exposed to gang violence and other deviant activities.
Under this strategy, which was officially launched in Rose Heights last week, any youngsters under the age of 17 years old who are spotted idling about after 9 p.m. will be ushered off the streets.
Monitors will be placed on every street in the communities to ensure compliance.
The monitors, who will be made up of selected residents, will operate as first responders and will work closely with the police and parents. Before taking up their new role, the first responders will receive two weeks' training supervised by a team from the Ministry of National Security, which is funding the project.
Their training will focus on customer service, parenting, conflict resolution and mediation, among other necessary skills.
"The monitors will appeal to the child, and if he or she refuses to listen, then they will go to the parents. If the parent is not receptive to the curfew, then the police will come in," said Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor, the commanding officer for St James.
APPEAL TO PARENTS
McGregor also noted that repeat offenders would have their cases referred to the Child Development Agency, which will use the provisions of the law to ensure that errant parents and children fall in line.
"I want to appeal to the parents to pay closer attention to their children ... . Keeping them off the streets should be the number one priority," said McGregor, who noted that parents who fail to comply could find themselves being dragged before the courts.
"When we find out these things and all the necessary processes have gone through, we are going to put you through the court, because you must stand up and be accounted," said McGregor.
"You are responsible for these children, and I've been saying, if you have an issue with managing your kids, then go and seek help through a pastor, justice of the peace (JP), senior people or other family members."
McGregor said the ambitious curfew initiative will be rolled out in other communities in short order as consultative committees are now being formed in partnership with the pastors, JPs, the Peace Management Initiative, and other organisations.
Besides the curfew, the police will also be conducting an event called, Under the Street Lights, which will feature upstanding citizens who will be speaking with the vulnerable youngsters of the communities to steer them away from antisocial activities.
Last year, St James recorded 212 murders. Of those killed, more than 70 per cent were young people.
Eighty per cent of the perpetrators were youngsters.