Thu | Dec 2, 2021

Cops most corrupt, say Jamaicans

Published:Friday | March 12, 2021 | 12:06 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Dr Horace Chang, deputy prime minister and minister of national security.
Dr Horace Chang, deputy prime minister and minister of national security.

The Major General Antony Anderson-led Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has come out tops as the most corrupt entity in the criminal justice system in the eyes of Jamaicans.

According to the 2019 Jamaica National Crime Victimisation Survey, which was made public on Wednesday, 65.2 per cent of Jamaicans who are aged 16 and older felt that the JCF was most corrupt, ahead of the Firearm Licensing Authority.

The survey had a sample size of 6,354 persons and covers September 2018 to August 2019. It is the fifth such survey conducted in Jamaica by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica.

Some 55.6 per cent of Jamaicans believe that the Department of Correctional Services is corrupt, and 41.2 per cent think judges and the courts are shady.

A third of Jamaicans perceive the Major Organised and Anti-Corruption Crime Agency (36.6 per cent) as being corrupt, according to the survey.

While acknowledging that the perception was troubling, National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang defended the JCF.

Noting that the figure had been in the 70s prior to now, he noted that “65.2 per is too high, but it does suggest we are improving”.

He added: “The police interface more with the public [as opposed other groups]. Their actions tend to be under public scrutiny and one event becomes a national event. Plus, there is a narrative and a legacy that is hurting our police force.”

HIGHLY PROFESSIONAL

He said that the police force was a “highly” professional body and systemic corruption has been reduced.

“We will have to re-emphasise to the wider public the steps we are taking to improve greater accountability of their activities, but the recruitment now is very rigid,” Chang, who is also the deputy prime minister, said.

“Confidence in the police is crucial,” he admitted.

In the same survey, 78.6 per cent of Jamaicans felt that the zones of special operations (ZOSO) were reliable, while 76.1 per cent thought the same about states of emergency (SOEs) were reliable.

Both ZOSOs and SOEs were in force in several areas across the island at the time of the survey.

A similar majority in both instances felt that the security measures were also effective.

SOEs were one of the main planks in the Government’s crime-fighting strategies.

Last September, the Supreme Court ruled that the detention of five men under the states of emergency was unconstitutional.

The men had been detained for extended periods in at least three parishes.

Justice Bertram Morrison had declared that the men’s constitutional rights and the Constitution itself had been violated by what was described as executive detention.

The Government subsequently filed an appeal.

Chang has indicated that the Government will not seek to declare another SOE until its appeal is heard, despite calls for a reinstatement, especially in St James, which has seen a 131% increase in murders since the start of the year. Up to yesterday, 37 persons had been murdered, compared to 16 for the corresponding period last year.

The Inter-American Development Bank and the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom provided funding for the survey through the Citizens Security and Justice Programme.

The Mexican Embassy facilitated the sharing of technical expertise through the Latin American and Caribbean Crime Victimization Survey Initiative.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com