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Community policing to target crime in Caribbean

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC:

THE CARIBBEAN Task Force on Community Policing - a partnership between the police and communities - to help cut crime statistics throughout the English-speaking Caribbean was formally launched in Trinidad yesterday.

The seven-member Task Force comprise Hilton Guy, Commissioner of Police, Trinidad and Tobago, Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP) President, Chairman; Professor Ramesh Deosaran; Francis Forbes, Commissioner of Police, Jamaica; Paul Farquharson, Commissioner of Police, Bahamas; Matthias Lestrade, Commis-sioner of Police, Dominica; Kathy Higgins, Representative UK Government; and Keith Renaud, ACCP Secretariat, Manager/Secretary.

Deosaran, director of the Centre of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the St Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), said the traditional ways of dealing with violent crimes are not working effectively and community policing is a practice whose time has come.

"Within the last year, from Jamaica to Trinidad and Tobago, down to Guyana, the spate of murders, wanton violence and robberies has left our Caribbean population frightened and besieged. Clearly, the traditional ways of dealing with these and other crimes are not working effectively," Professor Deosaran said.

Deosaran, the vice-chairman and advisor to the Task Force, said community policing sits as the strategic operational lever between public fear of crime and the kind of civilian information required to reduce both fear and crime itself.

He said research has shown that more than forensic tools, more than the seniority or experience of the investigating police officer, it is information from citizens at the affected crime scene which helps to solve most crimes.

"By forging partnerships with the various communities, by building public confidence in the police, community policing puts itself in a strong position to generate the kind of information which solves and reduces crime and even public fear of crime," said Deosaran.

He described the decision by the ACCP to establish the Task Force as a "landmark one, a pioneering one, a clear commitment" to take up the very serious challenge of developing and improving community policing across the Caribbean.

He said community policing offers the opportunity to target certain crimes, specific neighbourhoods and particular offenders, and bring some comfort to victims.

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