Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Head of Crime Stop Jamaica, Peter John Thwaites, yesterday charged that "hierarchical bureaucracy and constipation" in the investigative system of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) have been challenging the more than 20-year-long competence of the programme.
Thwaites told The Gleaner that the emergence of the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) had become more of a hindrance than facilitator to the Crime Stop programme, designed to arrest criminality through confidential tips from members of the public.
He stressed that the system that has served to also get illegal weapons off the streets has stumbled upon challenges not of its own doing. "We have had quite a fall-off in the last two years," Thwaites confirmed when contacted by The Gleaner yesterday.
Thwaites said an arrangement in which information on the location of guns as well as suspected criminals has to be filtered through the NIB has stymied the efficacy of the organisation.
"Going to the NIB may have had a negative impact on the success rate of Crime Stop, which has been well received by the public," asserted Thwaites.
He told The Gleaner that he was taken aback by the reaction of Police Commissioner Owen Ellington to what appears to be the reduced success rate of Crime Stop.
According to Thwaites, Ellington has spoken of the need to change the original mandate of Crime Stop, pointing to the growing "success of intelligence gathering" by the NIB, saying it was making Crime Stop, in its current state, less effective.
"We have spoken to the Police High Command and he said we have to change the way we do business as the police are getting more tips and are doing a better job in intelligence," said Thwaites.
Thwaites, however, suggested that the problem was as a result of the tardiness on the part of the NIB, caused by the bureaucratic, hierarchical system.
"When we send tips to the police, they are required to do a fulsome job to determine whether a reward would be offered," said Thwaites.
"In the past, before the NIB was the intervening factor, we used to get a tip and pass it directly to the police on the ground, who acted immediately … . At the time, the success rate of Crime Stop was high," Thwaites asserted.
Gleaner checks have revealed that the success rate of Crime Stop has dropped from one in five to one in 67.
Thwaites said he was hoping to hold further discussions with Ellington in a bid to review the level of service that Crime Stop provides to the police, but there are indications that the Police High Command has become more inward looking.
Whereas Crime Stop seeks to reward vigilant members of the public who share information under the cover of confidentiality, the Police High Command is rewarding divisions for effective policing.
A new guns-for-reward programme has been introduced by the commissioner for members of the JCF. This programme involves a $100,000 monthly award for the division or unit that rakes in the highest number of illegal firearms in a given month.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds said the objective of this initiative that specifically targets illegal guns would not diminish the effects of the Crime Stop programme.