Residents in the Seafort, Hellshire Park Estate and Fort Hill Estate communities in Portmore, St Catherine, are now being served by Neighbourhood Watch groups to help ensure public safety.
The groups were launched during a ceremony at the Hellshire Park shopping centre, on March 25. It was attended by the Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang; Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony
Anderson; other members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), and other stakeholders.
Chang, in his keynote address, maintained that policing alone, “even in its most extreme form”, will not be enough to fully ensure public safety without the support of the community.
“Having strong community support, working collaboratively with the police, is the surest way of improving public safety and good order in the community,” the Minister argued.
“Neighbourhood Watch, as a unit in the community, is crucial to having good order and dynamic, healthy communities and, certainly, plays a crucial role in maintaining that order,” he added.
Chang further reasoned that a quality Neighbourhood Watch committee can also serve to assist young people, who can be diverted into the wrong area, “to move into a productive area”.
He commended all the participants who are a part of the different groups for stepping up and getting involved with the movement.
For his part, the Commissioner said that a Neighbourhood Watch can provide the foundation on which the citizens build their communities, while also helping the police with its cases.
“How neighbourhood watches can help is they generally see the things that are starting and growing… the quarrels that are taking place… and to the extent that you can pass that on and assist us, let us know about it,” he urged.
The Commissioner pointed out that through the movement, residents will “get to know their neighbours”, noting that “the very nature of a neighbourhood watch… means we all ‘business in our business’; our collective security is all of our concern”.
He also lauded the integration of technologies in the programme, pointing out that this is “consistent with the direction that the JCF has moved”.
The Neighbourhood Watch movement began in Jamaica in 1987 on Mall Road in Kingston. According to the JCF, the programme quickly spread islandwide as an additional strategy to address crime. Since its inception, there have been approximately 700 Neighbourhood Watch groups in Jamaica, 61 of which were launched in the St. Catherine South Division.
Neighbourhood Watch groups typically see residents coming together and collaborating with the Police and other stakeholders, including Jamaica Eye, to reduce the fear of crime, have safer communities and strengthen trust and confidence between the police and citizens.