Crime Stop Partnership Hopes to Yield Success
Jamaicans are being encouraged to take a firm stand against violence and the tolerance for criminality by breaking their silence and sharing what they know about criminal activity with law-enforcement authorities.
Crime Stop Jamaica, in partnership with Guardsman Limited, Marksman Limited and Signtex Limited, has erected 60 billboard signs islandwide, encouraging Jamaicans to call the Crime Stop Jamaica Hotline, 311 and give information on criminal activities. The eye-catching eight feet by four feet billboards are reasonably distributed throughout the parishes, and encourage the public to give information by offering total anonymity to all callers. For those who wish, a cash reward is given for information that leads to an arrest, recovery of stolen property or the seizure of illegal drugs or guns.
The programme administered by the National Crime Prevention Fund is run under the direction of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and, according to Prudence Gentles, manager of Crime Stop Jamaica, the system is designed that no one who calls the 311 number is compromised.
"If someone was compromised through Crime Stop Jamaica, the programme would cease to exist. Anonymity is of utmost importance to how we operate. If someone calls to give information, they are given a number. We do not ask for a name, there is no call back or access to the person's point of contact information," Gentles said.
"Many persons are scared to go to the police to report a crime. So calling into Crime Stop Jamaica is an easy and very effective way to give information. Our call centre is open every day of the year, even on public holidays," she said. "Once we receive the information, we commence investigations and ask the caller to call back to follow up on the case. If an arrest is made and the caller calls back to enquire as to the outcome, once there is an arrest, we make arrangements to pay the caller in cash anonymously."
On average, up to 90 calls are received per month and this number has been consistent since the programme was introduced in 1989. Also consistent have been the reports of gun and narcotics - related calls that have been received throughout this period. More than 2,000 persons have been arrested through Crime Stop Jamaica, however the objective is to garner further success.
According to Sheila Benjamin-McNeill, Guardsman group public relations and advertising director, they have supported the Crime Stop programme because the organisation has been able to contribute to crime fighting in Jamaica.
"As a security company, persons may be of the impression that we would not want see a decrease in criminal activity. However, this is far from the truth. It is also our job to ensure that the citizens of Jamaica can move about freely in a safe and secure environment. Going forward, we will continue to partner with the programme as it is a great avenue for us to contribute to law enforcement in Jamaica," Benjamin-McNeill said.
The initial overall cost of the partnership is estimated at $5 million. However, the projected cost for the lifetime of the project, which could run up to four years, is estimated at $2.7 million per year.
Earlier this year, Crime Stop Jamaica also launched a partnership with the JPSCo, which has resulted in the arrest of business operators for electricity theft. The initiative forms part of the light and power company's intensified effort to reduce electricity theft, in business enterprises in particular. Persons wishing to report suspected incidents of electricity theft in commercial entities may call Crime Stop at 311.