The Ministry of National Security (MNS) will be implementing a one-year strategic social-intervention pilot project in 21 communities, aimed at reducing crime and violence, particularly those perpetrated by youth.
The targeted communities include Denham Town, Kingston; downtown Kingston; Bull Bay, St. Andrew; Montego Bay, St James; Spanish Town Central, St. Catherine; and May Pen, Clarendon.
Their selection was based on the results of a three-year comparative analysis of incidents and victims of homicides and shootings recorded in volatile communities currently benefiting from various social service programmes.
Senior Director of Crime Prevention and Community Safety in the ministry, Renée Steele, says a framework has been established to guide the pilot’s implementation across government agencies.
“We are being more deliberate in our approach to identify a cohort of students from schools within targeted communities who are most at risk. In our previous approaches, we have been targeting persons, aged 17 to 29. However, research indicates that there is need to focus on a younger cohort, in order to be in true prevention mode”, she explained.
Steele advised that the MNS has liaised with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to identify schools prone to gang violence and recruitment.
“Priority focus is also being given to primary students who are from ‘feeder’ schools, matriculating to high schools in the targeted communities where a large number of gangs operate,” she added.
Meanwhile, Minister Chang underscored the need for improved delivery of social interventions, driven by greater collaboration among government agencies.
“We cannot continue to work in silos; if we continue on that path, we will not see results. I acknowledge that there is good work being done by a number of agencies; however, we need a more collaborative approach and we need to see an integration of social and crime-prevention services to produce one result – a reduction in crime and violence,” he said.