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Tuesday, January 17, 2006 

Portia outlines six-point plan to fight crime
BY DWIGHT BELLANFANTE Observer staff reporter
Monday, January 16, 2006



PORTIA SIMPSON MILLER promised yesterday that as part of plans to reduce crime a government led by her would increase resources to the security ministry, while changing the focus of the crime reduction strategy to focus more on empowering communities and having wider consultation to seek solutions.

Simpson Miller said, however, that her plan would revolve around six basic strategies, designed to lead to certain measurable outcomes in the first phase over 12 to 18 months that would lay the basis for success in the following period.

These plans outlined were:

. The implementation of a comprehensive policy and legislative framework that will enable government to address public safety in a co-ordinated and focussed manner;

. the implementation of a targeted integrated community-based crime reduction strategy designed to significantly reduce crime, criminal activities and general lawlessness in the society;

. implementation of a criminal statistical data system (CRISDAT) designed to facilitate strategic, operational and tactical crime management through technology and information management;

. implementation of a comprehensive anti-drug strategy designed to reduce the supply and demand for illegal drugs and make the country less attractive as a transshipment point;

. the implementation of a comprehensive capacity strengthening plan to increase competency, physical infrastructure, welfare and performance of the security forces, and;

. a comprehensive financing strategy, to fund the mentioned improvements.

She also declared her support for hanging, but only after significant reform of the country's justice system and putting measures in place to ensure that greater justice was afforded to crime victims.

Simpson Miller, the local government minister, is one of four candidates seeking to replace P J Patterson as the next leader of the ruling People's National Party and head of government when he retires within another two months. The other contenders are Dr Peter Phillips, the security minister; Omar Davies, finance minister; and Dr Karl Blythe, a former Cabinet minister and a vice-president of the party.

Simpson Miller, who was addressing a crime and justice consultation forum organised by her 'Team Portia' campaign at the Jamaica Conference Centre, said crime was the most urgent issue before the nation, but that the Jamaican people were "tired of the talking" regarding plan to bring crime under control.

"It is full time that the human suffering and grief taking place daily and nightly in our communities and seen on television be faced with the collective resolve of our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and our communities, in essence every single Jamaican.

"Jamaica is sick and tired and tired of being sick and tired of the shedding of the innocent blood of our babies, little girls, little boys, young men and women and senior citizens," said Simpson Miller.

She said that as a Cabinet member and under the principle of collective responsibility she had been a part of the various crime plans, but there was an urgent need for review and a new approach to the scourge.

"We must admit that 1,669 Jamaicans murdered in 2005 up from 975 in 2003 is unacceptable and is cause for the most serious examination of our approach. We need different results and so must try different things," said Simpson Miller.

She said that her plan did not call for new taxes to be imposed, but would require the finance minister "to find the resources through the most creative re-allocations and savings to finance a safe Jamaica", in a manner similar to initiatives to fund housing through the formation of the National Housing Trust in the 1970s and HEART in the 1980s to fund employment training.

"Every successful plan must be properly financed. In the 2005/06 budget the government is spending $19 billion on national security. My plan calls for a significant increase in expenditure over the next five years to finance the necessary activities to achieve public safety, crime control and reforms in the administration of justice.

"... I will say two things, however. One, we will have to find the funds to deal with this most important issue facing Jamaica. Crime affects everything and if public order is not restored all our efforts to grow the economy and improve social services will not materialise, we will not even be able to enjoy the beauty of our country and what it has to offer to us and our visitors.

"Law, order and justice is the first responsibility of government. Some argue it is the very reason for government as there can be no proper activity without law and order. I assure you, I have the will to make it the first responsibility and first priority of my government and to do that which is required," said Simpson Miller.

bellanfanted@jamaicaobserver.com

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