Citizen Security and Justice Programme hailed for helping youths
Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
The Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), an initiative of the Ministry of National Security, has been hailed by members of the Spanish Town community for helping to assist disenfranchised youths in many areas of the town gain employment and provide opportunities for them to access and maintain their presence in other beneficial programmes.
The CSJP is a multi-faceted crime- and violence-prevention programme jointly funded through a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and a grant from the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID). The programme focuses on building community safety and security, and providing violence-prevention services to vulnerable and volatile communities.
According to Kemar Cochrane, president of the United Youth Against Drugs in St Catherine, the CSJP programme creates employment for those who can be employed and assist those who need a skill and the opportunity to access the necessary resources.
"Many young people after leaving school do not have the financial resources to access many of the educational programmes that are offered. If they even start the programme they cannot maintain it. Young people would also have be in the communities where these programmes are, to continue them," Cochrane said.
The difference, he said, is that CSJP identifies the issues and assist the young people so they can access and maintain themselves in the programmes. "I can speak for the Homestead, Ellerslie Pen and March Pen communities. The level of crime has been cut because the youth are more gainfully occupied and are not on the street idling," Cochrane said.
The Homestead and March Pen communities each has a resource centre that is funded by the CSJP and are fully equipped with resources. "These resource centres also provide training opportunities and the youth are utilising them," Cochrane said.
However, Cochrane is calling for more initiatives such as CSJP that can assist with the development of the youth.
"The absence of opportunities facilitates crime and violence. When you speak with many of these young people they have ambition, the desire to achieve, but the opportunities are very limited. Even when they try to create opportunities they are faced with so many obstacles, they are not motivated to continue," Cochrane said.
The CSJP operates in 50 communities across eight parishes and seeks to ensure that people's socio-economic conditions are improved and protected on a sustainable basis. The national security minister said this intervention is aimed at limiting the amount of criminal activities in those areas.