Jamaica Vision 2030. National Development Plan

Background

Like any other focused nation, Jamaica has developed a National Development Plan referred to as Vision 2030 Jamaica. The blueprint aims at fostering development to ensure that Jamaica is “the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business” (Planning Institute of Jamaica 2010). [1] In the development blueprint, the second national goal focuses on safe, cohesive, and just Jamaican society by looking at national outcomes like security, safety, and effective governance.

Jamaica’s National Outcome No. 5 focuses on the security and safety of its citizens. The blueprint acknowledges the fact that Vision 2030 Jamaica shall not be a reality when the country operates under fears of crimes and lack of cohesion. The plan posits that the outcome shall restore a sense of security and safety in society through various ways such as reducing the level of crime and violence, offering adequate security and rehabilitation of people who are custodial clients in the country’s correctional institutions, and offering restitution to victims of crimes. The plan also takes account of diverse Jamaica’s security issues concerning “gender and age and to relationships that exist between communities and law enforcement agencies. Further, it looks at matters related to crimes from different perspectives such as “the roles of criminal gangs, the drugs-for-guns trade, donmanship, and border security”. In this context, the plan aims at emphasizing reinforcement of law enforcement agencies, reforming law enforcement systems, institutions, and legal framework. In addition, it also recognizes the importance of communities in combating crime, in society.

This critique shows that Vision 2030 Jamaica shall not be a reality unless policing and security issues take center stage. This is because the rate of crimes in Jamaica shall derail this plan. Thus, it is only possible to transform Jamaica from a Third World state where crimes and other issues of social and governance concerns have thrived when crime rates drop to internationally acceptable levels.

Introduction

According to Robert Huntley, there are rampant crimes and violence in Jamaican homes, schools, and communities (Huntley 2012). [2] He attributes this to challenges in achieving and maintaining suitable governance at the community level, and incorporation of local needs into national policy formulation, and institutional responses. These are the factors that have hindered attempts to achieve the desired level of safety and security in Jamaica. Consequently, issues of citizen security in formulating long-term plans to combat insecurity and enhance safety and security through collaboration with local communities, local authorities, civil society, and central, state bodies have developed to matters of national importance in mitigating consequences of violence and crime in Jamaica.

The Local Governance system in Jamaica has established Community Safety and Crime Prevention as an essential part of its planning and local development process. In addition, Local Governance has recognized the fact that a community approach to safety and security enhancement cannot be successful when handled with security forces alone. Thus, it advocates for a holistic partnership where all key players and stakeholders can notice, identify, analyze, share and address matters that concern the whole society.

Crimes and violence in Jamaica are mainly common in urban centers. These areas consist of marginalized areas of cities and towns, and high-end areas where citizens do not believe in national security agencies. These areas have all characteristics of crime vulnerability. They show high rates of unemployment, poverty, low educational achievements, poor housing systems, low social achievements, and low participation in public affairs. These inequalities are responsible for growing levels of crime and violence in communities. Consequently, high levels of a crime shall derail human, social, and economic development. This implies that Jamaica shall not realize its target of “Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business” (Planning Institute of Jamaica 2010).

The problem is that the current troubled situation of Jamaica security together with the inefficiency and apathy in governance and social growth hamper Jamaica’s efforts of achieving its blueprint development plan, and maintaining a viable economy that can sustain its citizens to acceptable levels of living standards.

Safety and Security Situational Analysis

A general situation analysis of crime trends shows that, in 2008, Jamaica was among the countries with the highest number of murder cases in the world. The country also had growing public debt, reduced productivity in core sectors, poor export performance, financial imbalance, underdeveloped infrastructure, growing unemployment, and a neglected education system, especially among youths. Still, Jamaica also has poor transparency and accountability in the government systems, and growing cases of corruption in all sectors of the country. These are technical issues that the National Development Plan must account for to achieve its aims.

Most studies indicate that crimes and violence are among the main challenges Jamaica has to grapple with as violence and crimes are on the increase for the last ten years (UNDP 2011). [3] The UNDP report puts it that murder in Jamaica rose to 59 percent in the year 2007. However, the main concern originates from the fact that most criminals were mainly youths (boys and young men) (Williams 2001). [4] Most crimes occur in Kingston city where donmanship and gangs dominate and require the locals to declare their supports to them (Johnson 2009). [5] Consequently, most societies in Jamaica operate under fear and apathy due to high levels of crimes and violence. Studies have established links between the effects of crimes and violence on the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the main cause of weak and retarded economic growth. The World Bank estimates that crimes and violence cost Jamaica approximately 3.7 percent of its GDP (World Bank 2003). [6]

Most forms of violence and crimes are in Jamaica. However, statistics show that crimes and violence against girls and women are the most common. Consequently, some civil society movements have identified the Jamaican government’s inability to protect girls and women from criminal gangs. The government of Jamaica has treaties to protect women, but the implementation of such agreements remains a source of concern among stakeholders. This is because local authorities operate in manners that do not recognize the lived realities that women and girls of Jamaica face.

Fears of violence, crimes, and insecurity have restricted choices among most members of Jamaican communities. In addition, the effects of crimes and violence impact the whole society socially and economically. This calls for the development of governance systems to protect citizens in both private and public spaces. In addition, community involvement in the planning and development of security measures is necessary to create a safe community where citizens can tackle issues of insecurity and violence with local authorities.

Vision 2030 Jamaica on Safety and Security

Critics note that Jamaica has resources constraints for implementing its development blueprint. Thus, the country chose an implementation plan of 2009 to 2012, which focused on six aspects such as “security and safety, a stable macroeconomy, strong economic infrastructure, energy security, and efficiency, world-class education and training, and effective governance” (Ministry of National Security 2007). [7]

On matters of security, the Jamaican government aimed at “empowering communities to become independent of the criminal gang networks and participate fully in mainstream society” (Ministry of National Security 2007). This is an attempt to eliminate garrison communities where gangs and dons operate. The plan aims at modernizing and reforming, enhancing border security, increasing the number and quality of machinery available to law enforcement agencies, and enhancing rehabilitation and integration of the country’s convicts.

Jamaican Police Commissioner believes that the country’s police force is becoming of age (Chung 2011, 2). [8] The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is undergoing a transformation that may bring some level of discipline and ethical practices that the force has lacked for many years.

Role of the Police and Security Agents

The JCF’s main responsibility is to maintain internal security. The force also receives assistance from the Island Special Constabulary Force. The country’s defense force (JDF) looks at Jamaica’s national defense and interdiction of marine drug dealings, but it has no mandate about internal security. There is also Jamaica Regiment that offers assistance to JCF in case of internal security operations mainly in certain communities (Ministry of National Security 2007).

JCF maintains internal security by concentrating on “community policing, intelligence gathering, special response, and internal affairs” (Ministry of National Security 2007). However, the number of increasing homicides within the force from 45 percent to 51 percent in 2006 shows that JCF had lost its effectiveness. The public perceived JCF as a corrupt institution that acts with impunity leading to loss of public confidence in the force. JCF also has the Professional Standards Branch that is responsible for handling corruption. However, the branch is yet to charge anybody with corruption-related cases. Human rights bodies attribute this inefficiency to poor investigative styles and unreliable oversight mechanisms.

There have been rampant cases involving police shooting in Jamaica. The force has conducted criminal investigations in most cases involving its officers. However, the investigation established that none of the officers was criminally responsible for the shootings.

The force has embarked on a focused community policing initiative as a means of addressing the huge rift between officers and majorities of poor slum-dwellers in cities and towns. Jamaica community policing initiatives involve posting police officers in schools where they serve as resource officers and combat school violence. Further, they act as links between the school, parents, faculty, communities, and police. Jamaica police academy has embarked on training its force on human rights. Human rights activists have condemned the police for ignoring killings perpetrated by vigilante groups. The law enforcement agencies rarely charge such groups for killings.

Controlling violent crime

Anthony Harriott believes that most public policies and behaviors of some state organs are responsible for escalating and complicating crime issues (Harriott 2009, 1). [9] He notes poor crime control policy is a method that public policy is responsible for complicating crime. Specifically, he points out lack of careful thought about the liberal use of incarceration may lead to knowledge transfer among criminals and reinforce crime. In addition, Harriott puts it than resorting to the use of excessive force and some illegal methods of controlling crime show the weak and unjust nature of the criminal justice system in the country. Policies that do not favor the employment of young people, and enhance inequality may have indirect impacts on enhancing certain crimes associated with youth unemployment.

Government agencies can anticipate crimes that result from poor crime policies and mitigate such crimes. Jamaica has made some significant steps in the formulation of policies to combat crimes. However, the problem of implementation of policies such as the National Security Policy 2007, and Jamaican Justice System Reform Task Force of 2007 continue to hamper policies implementation. Such challenges lead scholars to note that problems of insecurity and safety originate from public policies.

Therefore, controlling crime starts with the effective formulation of public policies and their implementation. This leads us to the issue of responsibility. Successive governments have tendencies of blaming their predecessors for creating current difficult situations. Avoidance of taking responsibility permeates the entire society. Citizens blame the police in the manner the police handle crimes and how corrupt they have become. On the other hand, police officers blame communities for lack of cooperation and aiding criminals. This is an attempt to avoid taking responsibility for fighting crimes. Thus, the fundamental step in controlling crimes in Jamaica starts with owning crimes. This must be across all political offices, the state security and safety machinery, and the community.

Controlling crimes and insecurity certainly lead to the better, just and safe society that Jamaica aspires to be by 2030. To act on crimes, Jamaica requires knowing the root causes of crime. This implies that public policies on crimes have to reflect “systematically acquired and valid evidence, distilled experience, and morally acceptable and explicitly stated political values” (Harriott 2009, 1). We must be able to analyze evidence for critical evaluation and draw themes that can aid in comprehension of factors behind crimes and violence. Thus, valid lessons will provide a suitable position for policy formulation to combat crime.

We must acknowledge values and allow for criticism by others. Such values can enhance policymaking efforts and consensus-building processes with all key stakeholders. At the same time, they can promote public education and rational comprehension of crimes and violence in Jamaica schools. This is an ideal approach to understanding public policies. However, public policies tend to follow political values and ideologies, and in most cases driven by diverse interests of stakeholders. Inclusion processes require that there should be no monopoly in the formulation of policies.

In Jamaica, public safety and social issues go together. There is a widespread lack of equality of opportunity. Citizens do not believe in fair treatment from law enforcement agencies. Consequently, most of them tend not to comply with the rules. However, if there is fair treatment, most people will comply with the rules, and offer support to public institutions responsible for implementing such rules. Unfair treatment leads to alienation from laws and law enforcement agencies. This is what occurs in Jamaica given the rising cases of police brutality and killings.

Citizens view laws and law enforcement measures as oppressive tools against the underprivileged. Jamaican public safety laws have a downward direction. This is how the vagrancy law operates in Jamaica. Communities believe that most people who formulate and implement such laws are oppressive against the poor in society. Such oppressive laws do not have consensus bases. Consequently, they are likely to be ineffective in controlling crimes. This approach emanates from colonial periods where police used such laws to control lower classes.

Jamaica has initiated several changes since its independence. However, communities still feel that law enforcement agencies operate with the colonial mentality of oppression. This demonstrates that reform processes of JCF are full of considerable inertia, and current trends and police killings can reinforce this. Such issues result in conflict in communities through a quest for justice due to ineffective criminal justice systems.

This trend can escalate in Jamaica until law enforcement agencies, and communities achieve consensus where the country’s safety and insecurity laws take approaches from common values developed by all stakeholders. Citizens have also noticed a bias in law applications. This is a challenge for law enforcement agencies to apply laws without any discrimination and bias to all members of society. Jamaica is yet to achieve equality in the use of laws in serving all citizens equally.

Jamaica has many types of crimes. There are criminal schemes, confidence rackets, mafia, street crimes, and white-collar crimes. In addition, violence has taken over as the main problem. Jamaica has violence as a subculture among criminal gangs. This implies that Jamaicans have perfected the use of violence to settle conflicts. Thus, violence is an institutionalized system of gaining control over others. A system of violence reflects a chain of connection with vested interests in different forms of violence. Violence has helped some Jamaicans earn money and has become a source of livelihood. Different methods of earning money from violence involve robbery, protection rackets, and corrupt activities mainly from government contracts (Ayres 1998, 78). [10]

Dealing with the problem of Donmanship

Eradicating the problem of dons in Jamaica may bring some rays of hope in achieving the country’s vision 2030. However, dismantling dons require cooperation and coordination of all members of the community. There are challenges in eradicating don power in Jamaica due to a lack of consensus on values and norms on how Jamaican society should operate. There exist different forms of opposing popular cultures in music, human rights sentiments, roles of law enforcement agencies, and lack of cohesion in political agendas fuelled by entrenched tribalism. At the same time, there is a general lack of intervention measures to combat violence. Every group focuses on a different approach to combating violence. Therefore, Jamaica must develop an alliance meant to coordinate different bodies responsible for combating violence to create a unified approach, cooperation, and consensus to eradicate the culture of criminality, donmanship, and garrison culture that permeate the country.

Jamaica must develop a new plan of value and attitude that aims at the prevention of violence. This plan should encompass all initiatives that aim at curbing criminal activities including community efforts that have the same goals. Such initiatives must advocate the importance of peace among young people, and why non-violence can be the only method of ensuring that the country achieves its vision 2030. It must also incorporate people closely associated with violence mainly from garrisons and families of dons. Children can become crucial ambassadors of peace within their environment.

Apart from civic intervention in controlling crime, there should also be social approaches to fighting crime. Social intervention must also include the country. For instance, we can draw the case of the Mathew Lane Community of Kingston. The state arrested and imprisoned its don, Mathew. Since then, there has been no other criminal gang that has come up to replace it. Therefore, the state must involve quick social approaches to take over the gap left by the don. It must also be recognized that there is a high affinity for other dons to fill up that gap. Dons have influence and control over their communities. This requires the state also to recognize the urgency of using social measures to curtail and destroy the garrison culture in Jamaica. However, if the state can fail to fill the gap, enforce its laws, and develop new laws to counteract the dynamic and volatile criminal nature of Jamaicans, then the culture of the garrison will continue, or emerge and get a rich ground for their criminal activities and get admiration from the general public.

At this point, the state can initiate a community policing approach, peace initiatives, and other social intervention measures to gain support from the community. These approaches must encompass Jamaica’s social goals in Vision 2030 Jamaica and the proposed reforms in the JCF as well as Jamaica’s intervention measures. This approach can only work if all programs that attempt at eliminating cultures of crimes and violence can show that there is real hope. At the same time, they must involve all stakeholders so that communities can act on a collective basis, and notice that the struggle to eliminate dons has a wider social agenda, economic value, and gets support from other organizations.

This approach has worked in Italy against the Mafia. Therefore, Jamaica requires a Cultural Revolution that emanates from the cooperation and consensus of civil society, government agencies, and communities to get rid of dons. Jamaica also has elements in society such as savants, businessmen, professionals, and human rights activists among others who would like good governance, prosperous economic, and elevated social institutions. These groups can rise against dons and violence in their communities. Thus, institutional reforms in Jamaica shall favor majorities who support reforms in society. Thus, citizens of Jamaica must act and combat crimes and violence. In case, citizens fail to act, rogues and elites set in to rule the public because such public gives its power so easily. Therefore, eliminating the culture of crime, donmanship, and violence in Jamaica requires a collective approach based on consensus so that the country can realize its vision 2030. Otherwise, insecurity and safety concerns among investors and citizens shall derail the blueprint.

Safety and Effective Governance

The ability to curb crime and insecurity is an indicator of effective governance. Secure communities and effective governance are reciprocal. This translates to a secure community free from fear. Improved security for the public and neighborhoods enhances interaction among people, groups, and institutions. This, in turn, facilitates the creation of an environment that encourages “communities to improve their lives and boost economic development” (Harriott 2009). However, looking into the issues of women’s security well reflects quality governance.

Role of Local Authorities

Local Authorities have crucial roles in devising community-wide planning strategies to curb crime. This is a reaffirmation from the International Conference pinpointing issues on the urban violence and safety held in Barcelona (1987), Montreal (1989), Paris (1991), Vancouver (1996), Johannesburg (1998), and Naples (2000).

Mayors and councilors have the capacity of developing and organizing local action and efficiently dealing with social demand. With the local government uniting with other stakeholders, they can bar crime and do away with violence and insecurity.

Civil Society

Civil society has fought endlessly against crime and violence to have a secure Jamaica. Through its activity, it has tracked the politicians and forwarded issues concerning security. They have tirelessly fought for justice by the creation of organizations such as Jamaicans For Justice, Families Against State Terrorism, JUSD, environmental organizations, and Columnists that facilitate fighting corruption.

Jamaican government challenges requiring insight into the planning process.

Efforts of the Local Authorities stagnate as a result of inadequate resources. The Local Authorities receive a small portion of the national GDP while no objective means for setting aside matching funds to facilitate its fight against crime and insecurity. The inadequate financial resources directly affect the local authorities as they fail to comply with the standards of the job market. In return, this results to shortage of human resources.

Autonomy is an issue barring the local authorities from executing their duties effectively. The Local Authorities have to depend entirely on political parties for finances. Therefore, they become loyal to them than their constituents. This has an impact on the voters as they ignore voting, resulting in low voter turnout during the election period.

Lack of quality service delivery by the Local Authorities due to insufficient human and financial resource make the citizens fail to trust and recognize them. Instead, the citizens turn to the central government for aid which in turn intensifies the lack of confidence evident about local government authorities.

As the Local government makes efforts to reach people through means like the press, media appearances, and public meetings, the challenge posing is that of citizens’ noninvolvement and nonattendance during the statutory meeting. In addition, women’s involvement does not equal the percentage of the population and services they receive through Local authorities. This gender constitutes a minimum population of elected councilors and senior management of the administrative support of the council.

Strategies and Sustainability approaches

Capacity Development Strategy

This approach will facilitate in building the local authorities’ ability to devise, plan, assess, and execute the local development plans, teaming up with civil society, security personnel, emergency responders, and other organizations.

Resource Mobilization Strategy

Effective measures are relevant in improving resources. This is possible through working together with International development partners that have activities running in Jamaica revolving around local government development and community safety. These partners commit to providing the Government of Jamaica with specialized skills in the development of local authorities.

Communications Strategy

Communication strategies shall enhance the achievement of security efforts in Jamaica. Thus, all stakeholders must actively engage different media of communications for developing effective approaches and tools for fighting insecurity. The national audience will create awareness on the significance of citizens’ participation in collaboration with the elected council who will facilitate development, tranquillity, and security through utilizing existing resources.

Sustainability Strategy

Jamaica must use its available resources to fight and sustain the fight against crimes and insecurity. This also calls for taking responsibility and encouraging communities to support reform initiatives. Thus, the government must develop channels that enhance police and community collaboration.

The system must also create specific agencies that handle issues that concern national safety, communities’ safety, and agencies that ensure the successful implementation of security reform programs. Empowering the Local Authority’s capacity ensures the implementation of the local development plans in a holistic and organized way. However, the national government should be in contact with the needs and developments made in the communities as well as challenges threatening ahead. All these reinforce the social capital and social cohesion of the country as a whole. Jamaica must develop its safety and insecurity measures before implementing its Vision 2030. Otherwise, it will never achieve its developmental plan by the year 2030.

Bibliography

Ayres, Robert L. Crime and Violence As Development Issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. New York: World Bank Publications, 1998.

Chung, Dennis. “Achieving Vision 2030.” Jamaica Observer, April 29, 2011.

Harriott, Anthony. “Controlling violent crime: models & policy options – Pt 1.” Jamaica Gleaner, 2009.

Huntley, Robert. “Community Safety as an Emerging Issue in Local Governance.” IVLP: Democracy and Governance 7 (2012): 1-4.

Johnson, Hume. “Dismantling Donmanship in Jamaica: Is it possible and what shall it take?” Talking Politics 1 (2009): 1-2.

Ministry of National Security. A New Era of Policing in Jamaica: Transforming the JCF. Transforming the JCF Report , Kingston: Ministry of National Security, 2007.

Planning Institute of Jamaica. Vision 2030 Jamaica. National Development Plan, Kingston: The Herald Limited, 2010.

UNDP. Strengthening Community Safety through Local Government Capacity Building. Project Document, New York: UNDP, 2011.

Williams, Lincoln. “Anywhere yuh be, yu not safe: Adolescence and Violence in Jamaica.” Final Draft for UNICEF and UNFPA, (2001): 1-66.

World Bank. World Bank’s Country Economic Memorandum, 2003. Country Economic Memorandum, New York: World Bank.