As part of the Local Government Reform agenda Local Authorities assume responsibility for Parish Safety and Security (PSS) in partnership with civil society and other parish stakeholders in order to improve the quality of life of citizens and to accelerate development.
This mechanism shows the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and the Local Authorities commitment in working towards achieving Vision 2030, Jamaica’s first long-term National Development Plan which aims to put Jamaica in a position to achieve developed country status by 2030.
In this plan, the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) recognises that the way to achieve positive social, economic and cultural outcomes is to adopt a holistic approach with a special focus on the participation of non-state actors, civil society, private sector, communities, local action networks, and social entrepreneurs, in the national efforts.
This mechanism is specifically in line with Goal 2 which states that “Jamaican Society is Secure, Cohesive and Just”. Some of the national strategies that have been identified to provide the roadmap for achievement and success are:
- National Strategy 5.1 Strengthen the capacity of communities to participate in creating a safe and secure society; to achieve security and safety outcome
- National Strategy 6.1 Strengthen the process of citizen participation in governance; to achieve effective governance outcome.
- National Strategy 6.5: Strengthen public institutions to deliver efficient and effective public goods and services.
This Ministry of Local Government works very close with the Ministry of National Security under their National Crime Prevention and Community Safety Strategy (NCPCSS). The strategy, formulated by the Ministry of National Security, with support from UNDP, envisions a multi-sectorial, multi-departmental collaboration to prevent and mitigate the social issues of crime and violence.
One commitment of the Strategy is to secure a safer Jamaica by developing community safety actions that will make more efficient use of finite resources, which will deliver real, tangible benefits for people and communities.
The NCPCSS recognises the difficulty inherent in past crime prevention approaches which were largely centralised. The Strategy posits that, “Local governments can play a pivotal role in community safety, establishing local priorities through engagement of the community, local NGOs and service providers, fostering multi-sectorial partnerships, defining action plans and coordinating the delivery and evaluation of interventions. Through this the Parish Safety and Security Committees were established.
The Parish Safety and Security Committees (PSSC) are local channels for facilitating, collaborating, coordinating, aligning and harmonizing of resources and actions in response to the safety and security needs of citizens in accordance with local and national policies, strategies and initiatives.
This mechanism supports the State in safety and security initiatives as well as enables citizens to participate in governance in relation to parish safety. It will work in accordance with the overall direction of the parish and be responsive to local realities and issues.
The PSSCs are Committees of Council chaired by the Mayor and in some instances co-chair by the Custos of the Parish.
The problematic security situation as well as ineffective governance and social development arrangements undermine Jamaica’s ability to establish and maintain a viable economy that can produce acceptable levels of wellbeing for the majority of its citizens. Consequently improved measures are required to prevent, reduce and contain the social, environmental and intimidatory factors which threaten the safety and security of citizens.
- Improve Safety and security of the citizens of the parish
- To strengthen governance by increasing citizens’ participation at the parish level in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of actions to improve their safety and security
- To facilitate partnerships, collaborations and consultations within the parish to improve safety and security in communities
- To integrate and coordinate local and national strategies and resources to improve safety and security of citizens.
The scope of the Parish Safety and Security system will span devising strategies and programmes in response to:
- Right to Life
- Threat to life and limb, property & community
- Quality of life as indicated by:
- threats to health: physical, mental & emotional including:
- child abuse
- violence in schools;
- domestic violence;
- sexual harassment;
- illegal drugs; and
- safer environment
- Behaviour in public spaces that makes it unsafe, stressful or intimidating to the young, aged, disabled and others who may be vulnerable; and Threats to Security and Sustainability including:
- threats to health: physical, mental & emotional including:
- Physical, social and economic risk factors for crime and violence
- Natural disasters;
- Man-made risks – fire, flood, theft, development design;
- Risks to a healthy Environmental
- Social and other factors that threaten Economic vibrancy
- Poor Management of public space – physical and behavioural;
- Stero typing and negative , branding of communities and residents
- Poor Police/Security citizen relationships
- Role of NGOs in facilitating more secure environment (JFJ/FAST) and
- Exclusion of vulnerable groups
6. Key Functions of the PSSC
Integrate parish safety and security into whole development plans, strategies and resource assignment in all relevant processes at both central and local levels. While ensuring that approaches are aligned with national objective and goals.
Coordination & Implementation
- Establish effective mechanisms to enable the PSSC to be responsive and/or give support in addressing emerging trends and concerns related to citizens’ safety and security
- Collaborate with community and civic agencies to strengthen citizens’ participation in governance and parish safety and security
- Build and facilitate partnerships of all key stakeholders, including MDAs, CBOs, NGOS and members of the private sector across the parish to consistently engage in enhancing safety and security
- Locate PSS issues within broader coordinated system
Monitoring & Evaluation
- Develop and adhere to monitoring and evaluation frameworks to ensure transparency and accountability to preserve the integrity of the PSSC and maintain public trust
- Monitor and assess the operation and impact of the responses implemented to address parish safety and security as well as take appropriate actions where necessary
- Quarterly reports of all decisions and major actions are to be submitted to the respective parties
- Coordinate and monitor activities of parish safety and security Technical Working Group;
- Publish all PSSC reports on PSSC, Parish Council and PDC websites
- Administer citizens’ satisfaction survey, at least annually
- Administer Safety Audit to establish baseline and track impact, output and outcome of interventions
Resource Mobilisation & Allocation
Coordinate State and other resources to reduce wastage often caused by duplication with the aim to significantly improve safety and security of citizens and assets within the parish and ensure that available resources are allocated on the basis of collectively agreed priorities.
- Raise awareness regarding civic rights and responsibilities, promote compliance with the rule of law, and educate relevant parties, especially citizens on issues that affect community safety and security
- Advise the relevant agencies of issues concerning local and community safety including fire, natural disaster, crime, sexual and domestic abuse and the protection of the vulnerable eg. Children, women, elderly
- Inform all stakeholders in the locality on how the programme will work with the aid of the action plan that will show the duration of the operations
- Implement and maintain an efficient communication system for the timely and appropriate dissemination of information to all relevant partners including citizens
- Provide and promote forums for community discussions;
- Provide regular briefings and quarterly progress reports on community safety actions in the Parish;
Research & Data Management
- Gather and document data/information on issues identified to establish a baseline and provide the necessary in-depth analysis to inform strategies;
- Provide input into strategies to increase safety through research, analyses and verifications of community safety and security issues;
- Request and collect reports from the JCF, JFB, ODPEM, MOE and all other relevant partners on local crime statistics, threats, school drop outs, crime prevention initiatives and other pertinent issues which may present a threat to citizens in the parish;
- Manage data and information through an e-library open to all PSSC members on community safety and security
- Identify critical safety and security issues based on data related to risk factors and the occurrence of crime and take the appropriate series of actions to mitigate threats.
Parish Safety and Security Committees (PSSCs)
This project which was funded by UNDP worked with the LAs to facilitate the strategic engagement of citizens and other key parish stakeholders to improve citizens’ safety and security in respective parishes through the establishment of PSSCs. The project which ended on March 31, 2014, saw the establishment of 12 PSSCs (Portmore, St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, Trelawny, St. Mary, St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland, St. Ann, Portland, St. Thomas and Hanover) to facilitate the strategic engagement of citizens and other key parish stakeholders to improve citizens’ safety and security in respective parishes.
To ensure continuity of the committees, they benefitted from seminars and workshops and were provided with the Parish Safety and Security Handbook and Toolkit. Additionally, $1,080,000.00 was spent to equip each PSSC with a projector and digital camera to facilitate their individualised hosting of capacity building workshops and public forums.
It should be noted that, PSSCs are now aligning parish safety priorities with Vision 2030 as they implement new initiatives. PIOJ is to finalise coordination of a wider sustainability programme for the overall safety and security mechanisms in conjunction with MNS and other MDAs.
 MacMillan, T.N. et al. 2006 Roadmap to a Safe and Secure Jamaica, Report of the Special Task Force on Crime, Ministry of National Security, A New Era in Policing in Jamaica: Transforming the JCF, Government of Jamaica