Sun | Dec 10, 2023

Citizen trust in security forces better, but social programmes lacking!

Published:Tuesday | October 23, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Members of the Cambridge Police Youth Club (from left) Oneil Gordon, president; Woman Constable Geraldine Johnson, police leader; and Kasia Samuels discuss their findings at the Youth-Inspired Safe Spaces Project Community Research Findings and Pitch Presentation session, put on by Youth Crime Watch of Jamaica in partnership with the Embassy of the United States. The event was staged at the Alhambra Inn Hotel in St Andrew on Tuesday.

Trust between security forces and members of certain communities considered volatile has taken a drastic turn for the better, but Dr Kadamawe K'nife of the University of the West Indies, Mona, believes that social programmes are not working in tandem with the enhanced security measures such as the zones of special operations and states of public emergency.

K'nife was addressing The Gleaner on Tuesday at the Alhambra Inn in St Andrew during a Youth-Inspired Safe Spaces Project Community Research Findings and Pitch Presentation session.

The project, which is supported by the Embassy of the United States in Kingston, is a programme that falls under Youth Crime Watch Jamaica, which sets out to engage police youth groups in the communities of Allman Town, Kingston; Gordon Pen, St Catherine; and Cambridge, St James to define issues affecting safety in their communities through research.


Building youth groups' capacity


It is also aimed at building capacity in youth groups to create solutions that address crime. A sample size of 200 persons was taken from the three communities.

According to K'nife, all the positive changes realised from the enhanced security measures could be erased if there is no immediate social intervention from entities such as the Jamaica Social Investment Fund.

... Police get chance to explore humanitarian side

"One of the findings was that even though police presence in zones of special operations (ZOSOs) and states of emergencies shut down economic activity, the perception of the people is that because they have police and soldiers, fewer people come out to do foolishness. You can actually be on the road more in the nights. When you used to see police and soldiers operating in curfews, they run you inside your yard. A different kind of relationship is developing amongst the security forces and the people. The police are getting a chance now to explore their humanitarian side as opposed to just being the police," said Dr Kadamawe K'nife of the University of the West Indies.


Create safe spaces


He pointed to the importance of carrying out similar surveys in helping to create adequate safe spaces for youth.

"We need alternative safe spaces other than schools and the home. The idea of the research is to find out perception about safety and safe spaces. The idea, also, is to have them understand safe spaces and then get funding to create such spaces in these communities. We want to create a space where they can do schoolwork and can get entertainment. Once we justify the need for safe spaces, then funding will be secured to create them," he said.

Based on the 200 people interviewed, some of the findings presented by Woman Corporal Geraldine Johnson, leader of the Cambridge Tri-star Police Youth Club in St James, include, "67 per cent indicating that they feel safe in their community, while 33 per cent felt otherwise. When asked about their confidence in others, 26 per cent said they spoke to no one when faced with challenges. However, we had 24 per cent saying they spoke to parents, while 23 per cent spoke to uncles and aunts. Six per cent spoke to siblings, and two per cent spoke to pastors and teachers when faced with challenges."