Wed | Oct 18, 2017

Restorative justice could boost confidence in police - Chuck

Published:Thursday | August 18, 2016 | 12:00 AMJason Cross
From left: Sociologist Dr Orville Taylor; Terrence Williams commissioner of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) and Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck, moments before the start of INDECOM's annual forum at the Ministry of Justice in Kingston on Tuesday.

As the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) seeks to develop a policy of principled policing, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has called for such a policy to be integrated and promoted with a system of restorative justice.

Chuck was speaking at the Independent Commission of Investigation's (INDECOM's) annual commissioner's forum held on Tuesday at the Ministry of Justice's complex on Constant Spring Road in Kingston.

'Promoting Principled Policing' was the theme of the forum.

Restorative justice is a system which promotes the proper rehabilitation of offenders while having them reconcile with the larger community, victims and the victims' families.

"Principled policing seeks to strengthen the relationship of trust between the police force and communities. I want to integrate the principled policing being promoted with restorative justice," Chuck said. He added that restorative justice was a fundamental pillar and mission of his ministry and that the brand of policing being advocated was a "vital tool for ensuring a more peaceful and cooperative society".

Chuck listed the steps towards achieving principled policing as being: the JCF beginning to provide members of communities with the opportunity to tell their side of a story or incident which occurred; maintaining unbiased decision-making; refraining from displaying combative demeanour; treating people with respect and explaining actions in a way that demonstrates caring for people's concerns in order to gain their trust.

"It is important that policing in our communities has a neutral approach. This is simple because bias in policing undermines people's trust in persons charged with protecting their rights. In this regard, the aim of principled policing must be to assist the Jamaica Constabulary Force in reducing incidents of conflict between the police and citizens."

He continued: "In other jurisdictions, the principled policing concept has been employed. For example, in Australia, police interact with and respond to their citizens by using initiatives such as neighbourhood watch, liaison schemes, and training. The success of these initiatives is attributed to good working relationships with the police. It is said that citizens have the potential to operate as more equitable partners with the police," he said.

The positive direction, Chuck believes, the police force should be heading towards could be achieved by placing the highest value on the preservation of human life, making prevention of crime the number one operational priority, involving the community in the delivery of police services and holding police officers accountable to the communities they serve. Also, it could be achieved by committing the police to professionalism in all aspects of their operations, he said.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com