Thu | Dec 3, 2020

Solving crime will require long-lasting social transformation - Chang

Published:Thursday | November 19, 2020 | 3:55 PM
Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang, speaking at the launch of USAID's Local Partner Development Core Partners Youth Crime and Violence Prevention Programme at the Terra Nova Hotel in St Andrew on Thursday, November 19, 2020 – Ian Allen photo.

Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer 

Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang says solving Jamaica’s crime problem will require redefining social transformation interventions within communities where youth, particularly boys, come into conflict with the law. 

Chang says with this in mind, the Government is seeking to strengthen public institutions in order to streamline and coordinate all social intervention programmes.  

“In this way, we will design and implement community-specific, relevant, and transformative programmes, instead of short-lived projects,” he said today while speaking at the launch of the USAID’s Core Partners Youth Crime and Violence Prevention Programme and grant signing ceremony at the Terra Nova Hotel in St Andrew.

The Multicare Youth Foundation, Peace Management Initiative, and the Violence Prevention Alliance are to receive grants totalling over $156 million.  

“Critically, we are creating a framework for the implementation of transparent, evidence-based solutions, which will be monitored consistently in order to achieve clearly defined and time-sensitive outcomes. That is the government’s commitment to the people of Jamaica,” said Chang. 

Statistics indicate that up to November 17, there were 199 youth offenders across the four juvenile correctional centres.

Of this number, 137 were boys and 62 were girls.  

Though at an all-time low, Chang said the data is “quite alarming and very telling of the current crisis facing the youth of this country.” 

He also revealed that as of September 30, there were 778 young people serving non-custodial probation orders.

Approximately 85 per cent or 678 were boys. 

Chang said the situation becomes even more acute when there is an examination of the types of crimes being perpetrated by those in the youth demographic.  

It was indicated that last year, 1,259 persons, with ages ranging from 12 to 24 years, were arrested for category one crimes.

This includes 260 persons for robbery, 240 for murder, 239 for break-ins, and 230 for shooting. 

“When we examine the profile of persons detained within our adult correctional facilities, we observe that offenders below 25 years of age represented 20.4 per cent of the overall population,” stated Chang of the findings by the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Survey of Persons Deprived of Liberty Report (2016-2019).

Meanwhile, Chargé d'Affaires at the US Embassy, John McIntyre, said America remains committed to helping the Government and Jamaicans to achieve the national development goals under Vision 2030. 

He said USAID is not only partnering with the Jamaican Government but with local organisations that are equally committed to helping solve the country’s longstanding crime challenges. 

“This partnership is an indication of the priority placed on the young people in this country and the confidence we have in their abilities to champion and make a change for the better,” McIntyre said. 

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