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Jamaica to have “National Identification System”

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, has announced plans to institute a compulsory national identification registration system as part of measures to reduce crime.

Speaking on (Jan. 23) at a media briefing at Jamaica House, the Prime Minister said that Cabinet has taken a decision to initiate the introduction of a national identification system, commencing in the 2008/09 fiscal year.

“It will require every Jamaican resident in Jamaica to be registered, to have a unique number assigned to him or her from the date of birth, and a number around which will be built the identification data,” he explained.

The move, he said, will “ensure that this country becomes more manageable.more governable, and that the security of the country can be better ensured.”

The national identification system is among a raft of crime reduction measures, which came out of five-day Cabinet retreat held from January 17 to 21.

“There are a number of issues that are going to be tackled very vigorously this year,” the Prime Minister told journalists, noting that focus will be placed on the management of the police force, and its effectiveness and accountability.

He informed that certain legislative changes are being prepared to give support to that objective and “it is going to involve conferring greater authority on the Commissioner of Police and holding (him) more accountable for the exercise of that authority.”

The Cabinet retreat, the Prime Minister said, also addressed the “critical importance of addressing urgent resource needs within the police force and we are going to have to prioritize again. those (resources) that we feel can have the greatest impact on (the) reduction in crime.”

In the meantime, the Prime Minister said that Cabinet has signed off on a “multi-faceted and integrated approach” to crime fighting, which will seek to facilitate the integration of policing efforts with social intervention measures, and involve the relevant Government agencies with responsibility for critical services.

According to the Prime Minister, “we have learnt by now that simply going into communities with a show of force, in search of criminals or people suspected to be involved in criminal activity, that by itself has never produced, and is not likely to produce any sustained reduction in crime,” citing social and economic conditions as factors “causing so many of our young people, especially our young males, to be conscripted into criminal activity”.

“We have to be talking about transforming the community while enforcing the law,” Mr. Golding stated.

To that extent, the Prime Minister advised that a new programme is being developed, which will integrate some past initiatives with new ones, adding that an announcement to this effect will be made in due course.

“We have a coordinating committee that has started to meet already. It is going to involve interfacing with non-governmental organizations, with community-based organizations, (and) with the private sector. It is going to require a holistic approach if any of the elements of those initiatives is to be effected,” Mr. Golding said.

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