Current Affairs

Current Affairs



Security beef-up -100 cars, 100 bikes for police, 'go-fast' boats for Coast Guard
The Gleaner
March 22, 2002


THE GOVERNMENT plans to spend $4.4 billion during the next two years improving the capability of the island's security forces, purchasing equipment for them and securing the ports of entry.

Dr. Peter Phillips, National Security Minister, who disclosed this yesterday, said his recent trip to Washington D.C., had resulted in the government receiving commitments totalling US$9.140 million during the next two years to finance the purchase of equipment for the police and the military.

During the period, the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard is to get four speedy patrol boats to be able to tackle cocaine traffickers who smuggle the drug from South America via Jamaica.

"Right now a team of JDF officers are in the United Kingdom looking at some go-fast boats to purchase," said Dr. Phillips who was giving an update on crime plans he announced in January.

He said his trip to the United Kingdom two weeks ago was also successful.

"Coming out of this visit, we received a commitment of financial assistance in the amount of approximately $100 million for vehicles, technological equipment and communication tools for both the JDF and the JCF," he said.

The police will be getting a fleet of 100 cars, 100 motorcycles and two more armoured cars. The latter are expected to arrive by April.

Additionally, there is to be a $30-million package of further technical assistance from the United Kingdom, Dr. Phillips said.

This will include collaborative work in the screening of travellers to identify and apprehend "drug mules" from Jamaica by using Ionscan equipment which is able to detect microscopic traces of drugs and explosives, and so prevent the smuggling of weapons; and the curtailing of money laundering from the UK. This is scheduled to begin by June.

Specifically, Dr. Phillips said, the government is to purchase an Ionscan Itemiser Contraband Detraction System for Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay. Some of the money is to be used to finance the government's Ganja Eradication Programme, the computerization of the Jamaica Constabulary's Narcotics Division, the setting up of a comprehensive X-ray system at the ports of entry, and to provide assistance to the Financial Crimes Unit of the Ministry of Finance, and to Jamaica Customs.

As a crime-fighting strategy, some members of the police force are to be assigned to serve in the United Kingdom, Dr. Phillips said. While declining to give details, he said there was a commitment to strengthen the two-way flow of strategic and tactical information.

The minister said that "while there continues to be significant concern among the public regarding crime, I believe the efforts made thus far by the security forces have indicated an enthusiasm and resolve that is encouraged by increased levels of co-operation from the public."

He said that come next month, the police force would be in charge of its own budget, and noted that the legislative process had been completed for the security forces to use wire-tapping in the fight against crime.

"It has been gazetted and is now in force as of March 15," he said.

To be amended are the Money Laundering Act and the Fingerprint Act, while Cabinet is to strengthen legislation to provide stiffer penalties for firearm offences.