Sun | Aug 9, 2020

VPA recommends holistic approach to policing

Published:Tuesday | July 7, 2020 | 12:23 AM

THE VIOLENCE Prevention Alliance (VPA) has said there needs to be a holistic approach to policing, and has urged citizens to work with the police to address the country’s crime problem.

Jonelle Llewellyn, research associate at the VPA, emphasised that there are practical ways to foster safe spaces and bring about meaningful engagements. She further noted that the shifting of responsibility and blame must cease as the ills being experienced are integrated.

She made reference to the case study of Boston in the United States of America, which she said had high homicide rates, noting that the Boston Public Health Commission worked collectively with the police department, among other agencies, to identify sustained solutions to prevent violence.

“There was a true buy-in with community policing, and it is the communities that became the primary partner in achieving reduced homicide rates and steadily declining rates of violence-related incidents,” she said.


Llewellyn further explained that what also sets Boston apart is the adoption of trauma-informed approaches in effective service delivery. A network of eight community health centres was developed with specialised trained staff that conducted activities in neighbourhoods with the highest rates of violence.

“The aim was to provide immediate trauma response-and-recovery services to affected residents and facilitate prevention-focused activities through their health centres,” she said.

Results from a 2014 evaluation found that a dollar invested in Boston’s Partners Advancing Communities Together programme was expected to gain a savings of nearly US$7.40 in crime-related cost savings. This is similar to VPA’s ‘cost of care’ study, which noted that Jamaica will save once investments are made in efficient and effective public service delivery.

Turning to the matter on how children are coping during the COVID-19 pandemic, Llewellyn said stakeholders have to be strategic forward thinkers in planning for child development.

“Private-sector strengths are to be applauded with regards to mobilising resources for our youth, but there is still a gap with meeting specific needs of the ones at risk, such as the ability to adapt to the increasing technological demands,” she said.

She also made reference to the VPA’s initiative, where some 220 at-risk or vulnerable families in 22 communities in St James, Kingston and Falmouth benefited from care packages consisting of basic food items, reading books and worksheets for children attached to the Child Resiliency Programme.

In addition, the VPA also handed over care packages to parents at the Chatsworth Primary and Infant School in Shaw Castle, Maroon Town, St James. The care packages included basic food items and toiletries.