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State of the Nation Debate - Senator Arthur Williams

Release Date: 
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 14:00

Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security,
Senator Arthur Williams

Introduction

Mr. President, all of my previous contributions to “State of the Nation” Debates in this Senate have been as a member of the Parliamentary Opposition. Today, I have the honour to be making my contribution as a member of the Government of Jamaica.

I have been assigned responsibility by Prime Minister the Honourable Bruce Golding, as Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security and in that capacity, I have been further assigned oversight responsibility for the Department of Correctional Services as well as the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency.

My contribution today will deal with some aspects of those subject areas as well as some general matters in relation to the safety and security of our nation.

Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency [PICA]
I begin with the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency.

Some years ago, a decision was taken to divest the Jamaica Constabulary Force of some functions, which it was felt, could be civilianized. This included the Passport Office and the Immigration Department. Together with the Citizenship Section of the Ministry of National Security, an Executive Agency was created, known as the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency.

This Executive Agency came into existence on June 1, 2007 and therefore completed its first year of operation on May 31, 2008. It is appropriate therefore, that I should give a brief up-date, on the operations of the Agency.

The Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency, as the name implies, has three Units of operational performance.

Passports
The Passport Unit which produces and issues passports and other travel documents to Jamaican citizens, has maintained the standard which was set, of processing applications made at its head office in Kingston within seven days and within ten days for applications made at the Montego Bay Office and at our overseas Missions. Given the volume of passport applications, which totalled 202,131 in the first year of operation, this is a commendable achievement.

Seventy-seven percent of all passport applications are received at the Constant Spring Road headquarters of the Agency. This means that an average of 600 persons per day, are dealt with at that office. The requirements of the office have outgrown this location, and accordingly, I wish to advise that the Agency will soon be relocating its operations and corporate offices to more suitable accommodation in downtown Kingston.

Additionally, the Agency will be improving its facility in Montego Bay, and will be seeking to establish an additional location in Mandeville, to provide greater access to customers in central Jamaica.

Importantly, Mr. President, recognizing the need to provide a more responsive service to the Diaspora, the Agency has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and  Foreign Trade, which will result in the placement of Desk Officers from the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency, at our missions in New York, Washington, Miami, Toronto and London. The persons to be placed have been selected, and trained, and will take up their positions at the Missions on September 1, 2008.

The Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency will have two main passport priorities during this financial year. One will be the introduction of the CARICOM passport by January 2009, based on the Government of Jamaica’s commitment to CARICOM.

The other, is to begin the process for the acquisition of a new passport production system. The current technology, while state of the art when it was introduced in 2001, has been surpassed by the current technologies in the industry which are being used to keep up with the advances in travel documents worldwide, and so, we must now improve our technology to keep in line with the industry standards. It may be that the Passport Production System and the Border Management System can be combined, and this is currently being examined in order to determine its feasibility.

Immigration
The Immigration Unit of the Agency focuses on border security issues, including the granting of landing status to persons entering the country at our airports and seaports. It is this Unit which manages the arrival and departure of individuals as well as the granting of visas and extensions of stay to non-Jamaicans.

The Immigration Unit has been working to reduce the time that it takes to process passengers arriving or departing at the island’s two international airports. According to Immigration Records, in the first year of operation of the Agency, (June 1, 2007 and May 31, 2008) 2,019,055 passengers were processed on arrival through both International Airports, and 2,096,153 passengers were processed as they departed the Island. This is a total of 4,115,208 passengers passing through our airports annually, and represents substantial traffic through our airports.

The improved physical layout at our airports and the technological systems employed, have achieved a considerable reduction in the time it takes to deal with a passenger, which is now an average of three minutes from the time the passenger first interacts with the Immigration Officer. The Immigration Unit will be ensuring that improved business operations, supported by the available information technology systems, in conjunction with the human element – the Immigration Officers, who have undergone extensive training, - will facilitate a smoother and quicker processing of persons using our international airports.

Citizenship
The Citizenship Unit has the responsibility for approving citizenship applications for persons who qualify by reason of descent, as well as preparing for the Minister’s consideration, applications made for citizenship, for reasons other than descent. This Unit has, in the first year of operation of the Executive Agency, cleared up a backlog of over 2,000 applications which had accumulated over a period of several years.

The citizenship processes have been manual. However, a pilot project was instituted recently, to bring state of the art technology, into the citizenship process. Very shortly, the results of the Pilot project will be evaluated and that evaluation will guide a full implementation of the appropriate technologies, and so reduce the processing time for citizenship applications, which admittedly, has been far too long.

So, Mr. President, each Unit – the Passport, the Immigration and the Citizenship Unit, has performed at a high standard and has generally met all the standards of performance that have been set for the new Executive Agency. But there are several areas of the responsibilities of the Agency, which require legislative action.

Legislation
We have to make decisions regarding modernization of the country’s Immigration Laws. There are, two statutes relating to immigration control in Jamaica – the Immigration Restriction (Commonwealth Citizens) Act, and the Aliens Act, each having widely varying requirements. There has been no major review of either the Immigration Restriction (Commonwealth Citizens) Act which came into effect on the 27th day of December, 1945 or the Aliens Act which came into effect on the 28th day of February, 1946.

This review and modernization will now have to be done. In this regard we will explore the feasibility of combining both laws into one statute containing our immigration laws, as has been done, for example, in Barbados. I am pleased to advise the Senate, that this matter is now before the Ministry of National Security for policy decisions to be taken.

It is also the intention of the Agency to review existing legislation, and in some instances to propose the introduction of legislation, dealing with a range of matters, which include:

    The issue of Visas;
    Carriers Liability Legislation;
    The Obligations of Port and Airport Managers;
    Powers to enforce compliance with entry requirements; and
    Refugee and Asylum Seekers.

Other mechanisms to enhance immigration controls, such as the development of Standard Operating Procedures, will also have to be considered. Again, I am pleased to advise the Senate, that the preparatory work has been done, and all of these matters will be placed before the Ministry of National Security, for policy decisions to be taken.

It is anticipated that before the end of this legislative year, the Ministry of National Security will have ready to be placed before Parliament, Bills to amend several pieces of legislation and for the introduction of new legislation in respect of some of those matters that I just mentioned.

One matter that I mentioned, is of some concern and requires urgent action. I refer to enforcement of the terms and conditions of stay, which are granted to an individual upon entry into the country. The truth, Mr. President, is that there are some persons who are treating our immigration laws with impunity.

An individual arrives in Jamaica and is given a fixed period of stay. If that individual desires to stay beyond the period given by the Immigration Officer, it is a simple matter of completing an application form, requesting an extension of stay. Normally, persons should apply to the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency for an extension of stay, before the date stamped in their passport, as the time up to which they are allowed to stay in the island. These requests are usually granted because they generally relate to work permit purposes, students at tertiary institutions or the dependents of such persons.

However, if persons overstay, but visit the offices of the Agency voluntarily, after the expiry date originally granted, they are usually given a further two to three weeks (depending on their country of origin) to leave the island, and in this case, the Passports of the offenders are retained by the Agency until they comply, or until their appeal is heard, because Commonwealth citizens have a right of appeal and this right is also granted, administratively, to Aliens.

But there are those persons who do not visit the Agency at all, to seek an extension of stay. They simply decide to stay as long as they wish, and very often, there is difficulty in locating these persons, as they move from the address given on the Immigration and Customs forms. When they are caught up with however, they expect that they must be allowed further time in the country and they do everything possible, to get an extended stay. I do not believe that most of these persons would think of treating the immigration laws of other countries, in that manner.

Something has to be done about this and we propose to take a number of steps in this regard. The Agency will do the following:

    The Agency is presently preparing an “information sheet”, which will be placed in a person’s Passport on arrival, which will outline the conditions on which they are landed. This is being done, so that no one can use the excuse of being unaware of the rules and the requirements of the country’s immigration laws and procedures.
    For those who do not seek the extension of stay within the required time, the Agency is developing a proposal for a charge to be imposed for the period of overstay. The proposal is for a standard charge for overstay up to 30 days, and significantly higher charges for periods of overstay above 30 days. The intention is that the charges will be set at such a level that it will be sufficiently punitive and thereby prevent the widespread practice of unauthorized overstay. Work is being done on this proposal as I speak, and will be completed shortly.
    The Agency is proposing to upgrade its border-control management software system, so as to enable it, on any given day, to produce a list of persons whose permitted stay has expired.
    The Agency is establishing an Investigation and Surveillance Unit, which will have specific responsibility to investigate persons who overstay their time, or commit other violations of the Immigration, laws of the country. This Unit will work closely with the Jamaica Constabulary Force and will put us in a position to enforce the removal from our shores, of persons who ignore our immigration laws.

Department of Correctional Services [DCS]
I now turn to the other department for which I have oversight responsibility- the Department of Correctional Services.

I wish to up-date the Senate in respect of two matters, one of which I know has been reported on before in this Senate, during the previous administration. The first is a project for the electronic monitoring of offenders and the second is the proposal to build a new prison. Thereafter I wish to speak about one aspect of the correctional services that I consider to be of importance to the good order and security of the correctional institutions, as well as to the security of the nation.

Electronic Monitoring of Offenders
Approval was granted by Cabinet in April 2007, for the Ministry of National Security and the Department of Correctional Services, to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with DILIEU Technology of Oakland in the United States of America, for implementation of a pilot electronic monitoring system in Jamaica. The MOU was accepted and signed in August, 2007. The technology to be employed is the Global Positioning System (GPS) and critical to the GPS technology, is provision of maps of Jamaica.

Some difficulties arose in relation to the provision of maps and this delayed the start-up of the pilot project. Those difficulties have now been resolved and the necessary preparatory work is proceeding. The launch of the Pilot Project is now scheduled for October 8, 2008.

Electronic monitoring works by attaching an anklet to the offender, whose movements are then monitored from a central site, and enables the authorities to watch the movement of the person anywhere in Jamaica. The monitoring centre has been established at the Department of Correctional Services head office, and it has been adequately equipped and persons have been trained to carry-out the operations of the centre.

Electronic Monitoring is a tool that can be used to aid the re-integration of inmates into society upon conditional release. It also enhances sentencing options and thereby reduces overcrowding, and costs, in the correctional institutions.

Several countries are taking advantage of this technological aid to the criminal justice system, including our CARICOM neighbour, the Bahamas. Let me quote from the NASSAU GUARDIAN newspaper of June 26, 2008, in referring to their proposed use of electronic monitoring:

    “Convicted and suspected criminals could be subjected to an electronic monitoring system that will track their every move, under proposed changes to the Penal Code.
    And persons convicted of a sexual offence may be required to notify police of their current place of work and of any educational, sporting, civic or other activities that they are involved in.
    The proposed changes are among a number of amendments outlined in a Bill to amend a variety of acts related to the criminal law, tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
    The new clause will allow the court to order, if it thinks fit, that where a person is convicted of any offence punishable with imprisonment for a period of three years or less, that in lieu of imprisonment or any part thereof, such person be subject to electronic monitoring, according to the bill.   

The Article concludes:

    There are many advantages associated with electronic monitoring, in lieu of imprisonment. Such technology will provide an alternative sentence for the criminal justice system. Less serious first time offenders may be subject to electronic monitoring as opposed to being imprisoned. This alternative sanction will allow such persons to remain employed and therefore support their family and will also reduce the overall prison population.
    The Bill will also give power to the court to impose electronic monitoring as a condition to bail, which will also improve assurance of appearance at trial.”

Mr. President, the electronic monitoring pilot project is one that I hope, and expect, will succeed, and that thereafter, we in Jamaica, will move swiftly to the legislative changes similar to those proposed in the Bahamas, and so enhance our criminal justice system.

New Prison
The other matter in respect of which I want to give an up-date, is the proposed new prison. The proposed new prison is a 5,000 capacity institution and will have separate male and female sections. The intention is that this facility will house male inmates who are now located at the Tower Street, St. Catherine and South Camp Adult Correctional Centres and females from Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre.

This new facility would eliminate the severe overcrowding that now exists in the Tower Street and St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centres. As a modern facility, it will be equipped with state of the art technology to enhance the supervision and rehabilitation of offenders.

A parcel of 200 acres of land has already been acquired at Amity Hall in St. Catherine where the facility is to be constructed. However, because of Jamaica Public Service Company power lines which runs through the property, an additional 200 acres is being sought, as it would be cheaper to acquire the additional land, than to seek to re-locate the JPSCO power lines. Negotiations for the purchase of the additional acreage are on-going.

Following on a prequalification exercise, tenders were invited for the design and construction of the new facility. Tender documents have been submitted and the evaluation of the tender is underway. The proposal is for the construction of the facility under a Build, Own, Lease and Transfer (BOLT) agreement. The evaluation is continuing and in due course Parliament and the public will be given a further up-date on the progress of this matter.

Contraband in Prisons
I wish now to turn to the matter which I indicated that I consider to be of paramount importance to the good order and security of the correctional institutions, as well as to the security of the nation. I refer to contraband being brought into the correctional institutions.

You have before you today, the 2006 Annual Report of the Department of Correctional Services. Pages 24 and 25 of the Annual Report sets out details of the results of periodic searches carried out at the various correctional institutions by members of the Caribbean Search Centre, for the years 2005 and 2006. Searches are also carried out by the staff of the correctional institutions. I have available to me also, the details of searches carried out during 2007 and up to June 30 of 2008. The results of these searches reveal an alarming situation. Let me indicate by reference to six items, the result of these searches.

Mr President, The Corrections Act provides, inter alia, that Any member of the adult correctional centre staff... who without lawful authority – knowingly supplies or allows to be supplied to any inmate any prohibited article; shall be guilty of an offence.....and liable on summary conviction before a Resident Magistrate to a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars or to imprisonment for any term not exceeding six months.

Is it any wonder therefore, that there is such a high volume of contraband being brought into our correctional institutions? This is a matter of great concern.

The Department of Correctional Services has prepared proposals for amendments to the Corrections Act generally, and includes amending this section. Suffice it at this stage, for me to say, that the penalty under this section is going to be dramatically increased. The matter of preventing contraband from entering the institutions is not only for good order and security within the institutions, but has implications for the security of the country, and it therefore has to be dealt with decisively, and in short order.

Technological Aids In The Fight Against Crime
Mr. President, I wish now to turn to some matters which I believe are necessary to the fight against crime in Jamaica.

There are many technological tools that are being effectively used in the fight against crime in many countries around the world today. I submit that we will have to acquire some of these tools, if we are going to achieve the desired results in deterring crime and increasing our effectiveness in detecting the perpetrators of crime.

In some countries, biometric technologies, such as automated face recognition, the identification and verification of individuals using iris recognition, other technologies such as automatic licence plate number recognition, dashboard video cameras installed in police vehicles, pistol cameras, are all playing an increasingly important role in the fight against crime.

There are two technologies which are now in common use around the world, the value of which has been clearly established, and which I submit that we need to employ, in the fight against crime in Jamaica. Also, there are two other technologies which are relatively new, which I believe that we ought to examine to see how they can be of value to us here in Jamaica.

Closed Circuit Television Surveillance System (CCTV).
The first of the two technologies that are in common use in many countries across the world, and which I believe that we need to make widespread use of in Jamaica, is Closed Circuit Television Surveillance Systems.

This is acknowledged to be one of the most important technological tools in fighting crime in many countries throughout the world today. It is used heavily in the United Kingdom and, since 9/11, is being used increasingly by many other countries throughout the world. It is used by public sector and private sector organizations for a wide range of purposes; from private companies guarding their perimeters and their premises, to local authorities and the police protecting public safety in our public places.

It is generally acknowledged that installation in public places of CCTV, is one of the best weapons against crime. In many cities throughout the world, it has been established that since they introduced CCTV cameras in their town centres, arrests for various crimes have increased phenomenally, as criminals can no longer remain anonymous. It is agreed that proper use and monitoring of CCTV cameras:

    ensures safer streets;
    ensures safer communities;
    improves public safety;
    reduces crime;and
    reduces the fear of crime

Three or four years ago the Ministry of National Security introduced a CCTV Pilot Project, as a part of the effort to restore order to our public spaces. The Ministry however decided not to implement the second phase of the project, because the design of the system did not allow for a technically feasible, affordable and cost-efficient operation.

So, having learned valuable lessons from that initial effort, including what to look for in acquiring, installing and operating a CCTV system, the Ministry of National Security is re-introducing CCTV, as part of the effort to battle crime.

The Ministry and the Jamaica Constabulary Force plan to develop and deploy local CCTV systems to monitor public spaces across the island. As part of its focus on improving community safety, the Jamaica Constabulary Force has established the Community Safety Branch, under which CCTV falls. It is the responsibility of this Branch to advance the implementation and use of CCTV by the JCF in Jamaica on sound operational guidelines and with effective working practices.

The Ministry wants to develop a national CCTV system that would allow the authorities to better manage major incidents and events including natural disasters and national emergencies. The core of the national CCTV solution would be based in the Kingston Metropolitan Region and the intention is that the local CCTV systems should be so designed that they can be integrated into the KMR based system, to constitute the national system.

The Ministry is currently involved in the development of three local CCTV systems – in Montego Bay, May Pen and Mandeville. These are being done in collaboration with local industry or community business interests –

    Montego Bay – with tourism interests through the Tourism Enhancement Fund Limited (TEF);
    Mandeville – the Manchester Chamber of Commerce;
    May Pen – the Clarendon Chamber of Commerce.

The Ministry welcomes the involvement of these community stakeholders who have come forward to partner with the Government and the Police in this regard.

For Montego Bay, there is a public tender presently out for a CCTV system to cover sections of Montego Bay (the Hip Strip, Sam Sharpe Square, the market). This is being partially funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund. Already, the Fund has assisted with the acquisition of a mobile CCTV unit and this is currently in use in Montego Bay. When the new CCTV system is in place, the mobile unit will be integrated into the new system.

In Mandeville and May Pen, the Ministry has been working with the Chamber of Commerce in these parishes and has completed the technical specifications of their system. Final layout and system design should be completed within the next two weeks and implementation should begin by September.

These three systems will essentially be pioneer systems, as they are expected to be the first of several local systems. Their effectiveness, how they work and perform, will inform the deployment of additional systems. Already, the Tourism Enhancement Fund has assured the Ministry that if Montego Bay is as successful as we are expecting it to be, they will be working with the Ministry to put in CCTV systems in other resort towns such as Ocho Rios and Negril.

The Ministry of National Security is also working with other Government agencies to advance the country’s CCTV programme. The principal Government partner is the National Works Agency (NWA) of the Ministry of Transport and Works which has been involved in deploying CCTV systems for their traffic management programme.

What the Ministry of National Security, through its technical advisors, has done, is to develop technical specifications and functionalities for CCTV systems, so that if a solution is being put in solely by the Government or in conjunction with a private entity, it will be on the same standards and will be designed to be expandable, incrementally.

There are still a number of issues to be signed-off on, including ownership of the system, governance of the system, maintenance of the system, and future expansion, and discussion is ongoing on these matters.

Lest anyone doubt the effectiveness of CCTV systems, let me give two examples of the effectiveness and usefulness of the system.

In the infamous case of the murder of 2 year old James Bulger in 1993 who was lured away from a shopping centre in Merseyside, England, by two 10 year old boys, it was the CCTV footage recorded on the shopping centre’s system, which led to the identification of the two boys as the kidnappers of the child.

Secondly, In the case of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian national living in South London, he was shot and killed by Metropolitan Police officers on July 22, 2005. The police claimed, that on that day which followed the attempted bombing of the Stockwell train station, de Menezes was seen wearing bulky clothing as if concealing something and that he vaulted the ticket barriers, running away from the police, after warnings not to run. The police maintained this story until it became known that there was in fact CCTV footage which had captured the event, and would give the lie to the police version of the events.

So CCTV can work not only to aid in capturing the criminals out there, but also to protect law abiding citizens from police excesses.

It is the firm belief of the Ministry of National Security and the Jamaica Constabulary Force that the use of CCTV surveillance systems in public spaces in Jamaica will constitute an invaluable addition to the strategies that we are employing to address the scourge of crime and violence facing our country. We invite private sector business interests to partner with the Ministry and the JCF in this endeavour.

DNA Evidence and DNA Database
The second technology that I submit that we need to apply here in Jamaica, is the use of DNA material as an evidentiary tool in criminal cases.

Prime Minister the Honourable Bruce Golding indicated in his presentation in the House of Representatives on June 17, 2008, that there is a proposal to amend the Fingerprint Act to allow, not only fingerprints and photographs of persons suspected of committing crimes to be taken, but also to allow for DNA samples to be taken and for a DNA Database to be established. He reiterated this position in his statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday last, July 22.

The usual argument of those who oppose the use of DNA evidence is that it is an intrusion on one’s privacy. But many countries around the world, have now introduced legislation to empower police investigators to take DNA samples, while having regard for the privacy of individuals.

In the United States, as of September 2007, all 50 States have laws that  require convicted sex offenders to submit DNA samples, 44 States have laws that require convicted felons to submit DNA samples, 9 States require DNA samples from those convicted of certain misdemeanours, and 11 States have laws authorizing DNA samples to be taken from anyone arrested for any offence.

In the United Kingdom, which was one of first countries to introduce legislation to authorize the taking of DNA samples, their legislation has undergone various amendments between 1984 and 2004, which has, each time, extended police powers to take DNA samples. In 2004 police powers were extended to allow DNA profiles to be taken, without consent, from anyone who is arrested on suspicion of any recordable offence, which includes all but the most trivial offences. The legislation allows the police to keep this information indefinitely, even if the arrested person is never charged. Accordingly, this gives the UK National DNA Database, the most extensive list of people of any DNA Database in the world.

The taking of DNA samples involves collecting biological samples e.g. blood, semen, urine, saliva, or hair, from suspects and comparing these profiles with those generated from samples obtained from crime scenes, or from a DNA Database. The Prime Minister made it clear in his that the proposal for Jamaica, is for the taking of non-invasive samples only.

Advantages of DNA Evidence
Mr. President, I want to make the case for this country to authorize by law the taking of DNA samples and for the establishment of a DNA Database in Jamaica. In contrast to other means of criminal investigation, DNA testing is especially valued for its high degree of accuracy in criminal detection.

Internationally, the use of DNA sampling by law enforcement has revolutionized the practice of crime-fighting, and produced dramatic results. It is now clear that DNA evidence assists police investigators in achieving a number of results.

The first result is that of making vital connections between crimes. This, for example, where the DNA profile developed from a crime scene stain, is compared with the profile from a stain collected at the scene of a similar crime, and there is a match. So, for example, semen found at the sites of two separate rapes may be compared and a match in such a case would alert crime-fighters to the existence of a multiple offender.

A second result, is in linking totally unrelated crimes, for example where DNA testing of a burglary suspect reveals a match with a profile earlier generated from a murder scene, or where you compare crime scene biological profiles with those on a DNA database, resulting in a match with a person not previously suspected of the particular crime.

A third result, is in eliminating suspects from consideration, for example where the DNA taken from a suspect shows that the DNA does not match the DNA found at a crime scene.

An example of these results, is a case from England known as Pitchfork’s Case. In November, 1983, a teen-aged girl was raped and murdered in Leicestershire, England. Semen found on her body was subjected to DNA analysis, which revealed that the offender had type A blood.

However, no suspect was found, and the criminal investigation collapsed. In September, 1986, another teen-aged girl was sexually assaulted and murdered in the same locality. Again, the semen stains were analysed and a similar result of type A blood was determined, leading the police to suspect a serial killer was at large. A young man, 17 year old Richard Buckland, said to have been near the second crime scene at the relevant time, was held by the police.

A blood sample was taken from him and the profile compared with the two profiles extracted from the crime scenes. The DNA analysis, while confirming that the same person committed both crimes, conclusively excluded Richard Buckland, who became the first suspect in the world to be exonerated of murder using DNA technology.

Desperate, the police resorted to what became the world’s first Mass Screen: Over a period of six months, 5,000 adult males from the locality were asked to submit blood samples, and 500 samples i.e. those having type A blood, were subjected to DNA testing. No match was recorded. However, the police subsequently discovered from a tip-off, that one local resident, Colin Pitchfork, who had type A blood, had schemed to evade testing. He had persuaded his friend Ian Kelly, to impersonate him by submitting his Kelly’s blood for purposes of the Screen. Pitchfork was then arrested and subjected to DNA testing and a positive match was made between his profile and those from the two crime scenes. He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

A fourth result, is that DNA evidence assists police investigators in rectifying miscarriages of justice. A number of cases have arisen in which persons convicted of crimes in the pre-DNA era have had their convictions overturned, even decades later, once comparisons were made between their genetic specimens and the crime scene material. DNA technology offers the possibility of preventing these miscarriages of Justice. One example of this is a case from the United States known as Dotson’s Case.

In 1977, a Chicago teenager, named Cathleen Crowell, who was sexually active with her boyfriend, suspected that she had become pregnant. Fearing her family’s reaction, she concocted a dramatic rape claim, and falsely pointed out one Gary Dotson from a police photograph book of suspects, and identified him as the offender at trial. He was convicted.

Eight years later in 1985, Miss Crowell, suffering pangs of conscience, confessed to her pastor, who alerted the police. DNA analysis was ultimately conducted on a biological sample from Dotson, which exonerated him of the “crime”. However, when Miss Crowell’s boyfriend was tested, there was a match. Gary Dotson became the second American to have his conviction set aside using DNA evidence.

It is important to note, that because biological material retains its integrity for long periods once it is properly stored, links can be made even between crimes committed decades apart. An example of this is another case from England known as Field’s Case.

In the late 1960’s, a 14 year old boy named Roy Tutill was murdered in the Midlands in England. The crime remained unsolved for many years, but his clothing bearing biological stains was retained by the police. In the mid-1990’s, with the emerging use of DNA technology, the clothing was subjected to DNA analysis and the resulting profile entered on England’s national DNA database of crime scene profiles. In 2001, one Brian Field was stopped by the police for a drink-driving offence. As permitted by law, a mouth swab was taken from him, and the DNA profile entered on the database. It registered a match with the previously-entered profile from the young boy’s clothing stains. Field pleaded guilty to the murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 - 33 years after the murder.

I submit that these are powerful reasons for us to proceed to authorize by law, the taking of DNA samples and for the establishment of a DNA Database for Jamaica.

Let me remind members of the Senate that, according to a police source “Repeat offenders contribute to over 80% of our crime”. This would in fact be consistent with studies conducted all over the world, which show that a small minority of repeat offenders carry out the vast majority of crimes.

Let me also remind members of the Senate that we have a serious problem of witnesses not coming forward to give evidence because of fear of reprisals against them or their families.

Further, Mr. President, let me remind members of the Senate that our police statistics show that the average “cleared-up” rate in respect of murders over the last ten years, is only 47.7 per cent.

The last four years has been below the average, and last year, 2007, the “cleared-up” rate was only 33.9 %. But let me hasten to add, that “cleared-up” only means that someone has been charged for the offence or that a suspect has been killed either by the police or by cronies. It does not mean that there has been a conviction for the murder. If we are to categorize murders by conviction rates, the percentage of success would be significantly smaller.

We need to dramatically increase the detection and conviction rates in our criminal justice system and DNA evidence will certainly assist in improving our detection and conviction rates.

Other Technological Aids.
I said earlier that there are two other technologies which are relatively new but which I believe ought to be examined, to see how they can be of value to us here in Jamaica.

Vehicle Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
The first is the vehicle digital video recorder, which is a small unit mounted on the dashboard of a police vehicle and which records several hours of footage of everything that is taking place in front of that vehicle. This is now in common use in some police divisions in the United States of America. It really is the same technology as CCTV, except that it is adapted for use in a motor vehicle.

I believe that this would be useful for public order and public control and could very often be that independent evidence in the usually conflicting police and civilian versions of events.

Pistol Camera
Likewise, I believe that the relatively new technology of the Pistol Camera, can be of tremendous value to us in Jamaica. Again, it is widely in use by some police divisions in the United States of America.

It is no more than a small digital video camera which is attached to any pistol and can tape up to 60 minutes of footage. The laser targeting system of the Pistol Camera can be pre-set to turn on when the weapon is drawn. It is therefore an effective way to document police shootings. This can be a deterrent to the wanton use of firearms by policemen, as well as providing protection to those policemen who justifiably use their firearms against citizens.

Both these technologies are relatively inexpensive and can be valuable to us given what we experience so often, with the conflicting versions of events in every police/civilian confrontation.

Other Aids in the fight against Crime

Traffic Ticketing System
The new Traffic Ticketing System and Demerit Points System, which is to come on stream, will be an additional aid to the Jamaica Constabulary Force in fighting crime because it will greatly enhance the ability of the Jamaica Constabulary Force to manage the provisions of the Road Traffic Act and will therefore permit the JCF to stem the movement of unlawful elements across the country, because, Mr. President, one of the factors that facilitates the activities of the criminal gunman, is the ease of movement across Jamaica.

The current Traffic Ticketing System is not functioning, and has fallen into disrepute for a number of reasons which include:

    Lack of synchronization of ticket data at the five data processing centres with the system at the Police National Computer Centre;
    The inability to match tickets issued to payment data and Court decisions;
    The largely non-existent management of the demerit points system.

The new Traffic Ticketing System has identified the significant procedures involved in the management of both the Traffic Ticketing and Demerit Points Systems, the integration of procedures, the identification of relationships and the sharing of data with all the departments involved in the process. It is anticipated that the new Traffic Ticketing System will be implemented in April, 2009.

Tinted Motor Vehicles
I want to place on the table for discussion, an issue, which I submit merits consideration, for implementation in Jamaica.

As I said, one of the factors that facilitates the activities of the criminal gunman, is the ease of movement across Jamaica. The gunmen move about as they please. They do not any longer have to move about under the cover of night and by taking back roads and round-about routes. They move about in broad daylight in heavily tinted motor cars. No one can tell who is in that motor car, because of the excessively dark window tints placed on them. Even if such a motor vehicle is stopped in a routine road check, a policeman has to be careful how he approaches such a vehicle, as he could very well be walking up to his death.

In several jurisdictions across the world, such excessively dark window tints are prohibited, because the basic rule is that police officers must be able to identify passengers in a vehicle.

We live in a tropical climate and window tints do help the effectiveness of car air-condition units. But, light tints are effective in this regard. There is really no need for these heavy tints which we see on so many of the motor vehicles on our roads.

The leadership of the constabulary force agrees, that the present situation of motor vehicles bearing excessively dark window tints, assists the criminals in their movement. They also agree that prohibiting these excessively dark window tints and allowing only light tints, would greatly assist them in their routine checking of motor vehicles on our roads.

This is one simple but effective thing that we can do to assist law enforcement in our country, and I submit that we must consider moving in that direction. I expect that there is going to be opposition from some persons to any attempt to regulate the tinting of motor vehicles. But, the threat to our nation’s security is so critical, that I believe that rules ought to be developed governing the tinting of motor vehicles, so as to assist in restricting the movement of criminals across the country. Accordingly, I propose to place this matter on the agenda of the National Security Council, for consideration by them.

Citizens Role in the fight against Crime
Mr. President, I want to close this presentation, by urging all law-abiding citizens of Jamaica, to get involved in the fight against crime and violence in our country.

The vision of any Government in respect of national security, must be to establish a safe and secure environment, in which our citizens can be free from fear of criminals, an environment which upholds the fulfilment of human rights and dignity for all persons and a society where all citizens can enjoy a better quality of life, in safety and security.

That vision has long been compromised. Not only has the level of violent crime increased over time, but the pattern has changed, and a higher degree of organization and co-ordination has emerged. The country has been experiencing extremely high murder rates and a continuous growth in the number of violent incidents. We have developed a culture of violence and a devaluation of human life and disrespect for law and order. Over the decades, police-community relations, has broken down and an unhealthy mutual distrust prevails.

Many initiatives have been developed for the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force to deal with the scourge of crime and violence, and they have had varying degrees of success. But the job of fighting crime, cannot only be that of the police and the army. For sure, the JCF and the JDF must lead that fight.

But I submit, that all Jamaicans must play a part in that fight. In that regard, I want to encourage all Jamaicans to seek to understand the concept of    “Community Policing” which has recently been launched by the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and to buy-into the concept.

Mr. President, community policing is both a philosophy and an organizational strategy that promotes a partnership between people and the police. It is based on the premise that both the police and the community must work together to identify, prioritize and solve contemporary problems such as crime, drugs, the fear of crime, social and psychical disorder and overall neighbourhood decay, with the goal of improving the overall quality of life in the community.

Community policing is going to require a force-wide commitment, and the constabulary that must emerge, after the implementation of the Strategic Review Panel recommendations, must create and develop, by intensive training, a new breed of police officer who acts as a direct link between the police and the people in the community. Community policing, because it is a partnership between the police and the community, is going to require also, a commitment from members of the community. They have to work with the police to address crime and public safety issues, in the community of which they are a part.

It is a relationship that is going to require the police to treat citizens with respect, and that the people treat the police with respect. It can no longer be that people in the community are “informers”. Instead it must be about people in the community telling what they know, in order to make their community safe.

The result, Mr. President, must be a community, in which policing is not seen by the community as “us” versus “them”, as oppressor and the oppressed, but rather, as “we” working together to rid “our” community of the drugs, and the guns and the gunmen.

Mr. President, I urge the country to buy-into community policing. It is the way to proceed for the future, and I respectfully submit that it is a better way to approach citizen participation in the fight against crime and violence, than to seek to re-introduce the Home Guards of an earlier era.

Mr. President, the business of the fight against crime and violence in Jamaica, is everybody’s business and everybody must get involved.

 

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