US$20 million IDB loan geared at improving police investigations
Jamaica's propensity for violence, including a runaway murder rate this year, has earned the country a much-needed boost on the crime-fighting front, in the form of a US$20 million (J$2.5 billion) loan.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in offering the loan, pointed to Jamaica's violent crime rate of 223 per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the worst in the Americas. This, it said, continues to affect the country's economic growth prospects.
In a statement on Wednesday, the IDB said the loan is to boost the country's criminal investigative capacity. A major criticism of the Jamaican police force has been the low cleared-up rate for murders, a figure that is often in the region of 40 per cent.
More than 1,400 people have been murdered in Jamaica so far this year in a spiralling crime wave. This has forced the Government to enact new legislation, which has led to the so-called Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO). But, more than three months since the first zone was declared, the murders have continued unabated.
The IDB has taken note. It says there is need to upgrade how crimes are probed locally. As such, the cleared-up rate for murders is being targeted. The multilateral lending agency says a major goal of the project is to help reduce homicides through intensified crime-prevention activities, including improving conviction rates. The project is also aimed at enhancing the quality of criminal investigations by the police, who are to be trained in the use of special technology in the fight against crime.
IDB Caribbean Country Development General Manager, Therese Turner-Jones, said: "Modernising the intelligence of the Jamaica Constabulary Force through the use of technology and better surveillance techniques is important to enhancing policing and citizen security in Jamaica.”
“A modern, trained police force is fundamental to improving the lives of the people of Jamaica," she added.
The loan will be for 25 years, with a five-and-a-half year grace period.
The executing agency will be Jamaica's Ministry of National Security.
The IDB said it is also committed to help reduce the incidence of domestic violence against women in Jamaica. It noted that over the past five years, 19 per cent of the females murdered locally were as a result of domestic violence, which compared to three per cent among murdered males over the same period.