Gov't boosts police surveillance power
published: Tuesday | April 8, 2003
By Vernon Daley, Staff Reporter
THE GOVERNMENT has dedicated substantial funds to extending the eyes of the Police Force.
According to the 2003/2004 Estimates of Expenditure, tabled in the House of Representatives last week, $10 million has been allocated for the purchase of closed circuit TV cameras which are to be installed in the major commercial centres of the Corporate Area.
The cameras will multiply the ability of the Police Force to monitor public spaces and detect criminal activities.
Recently The Gleaner reported that a building in the vicinity of Harbour Street, downtown Kingston, had been acquired from which the police will monitor the market district.
CCTV COMMAND POSTS
According to communications adviser in the Ministry of National Security, Donovan Nelson, the newly-acquired building is expected to be a springboard for the establishment of CCTV-equipped command posts islandwide.
"We're going to do it incrementally," he said, explaining that similar command posts will eventually be set up in locations such as Half-Way Tree, Constant Spring, New Kingston and Cross Roads, before branching out to areas such as Montego Bay and May Pen.
Minister of National Security, Dr. Peter Phillips, first indicated that the Government would be relying on the technology when he outlined his broad crime plans in a television broadcast in January last year.
"The centres of too many towns have become the focus of anti-social behaviour which provide a cover for more serious crimes such as extortion and robbery," the Minister said. At that time, he noted that the introduction of the cameras in crucial public spaces would assist the general surveillance capability of the police.
Earlier this year, the police were reportedly in earnest talks with local technology firms with a view to acquiring the equipment.
According to Gleaner sources, Dr. Phillips has been pushing hard for the installation of the cameras and has urged technocrats in the Ministry to move quickly in getting the plan up and running.