Police and Crime Control in Jamaica: Problems of Reforming Ex-Colonial Constabularies

Police and Crime Control in Jamaica: Problems of Reforming Ex-Colonial Constabularies

Police and Crime Control in Jamaica: Problems of Reforming Ex-Colonial Constabularies

Police and Crime Control in Jamaica: Problems of Reforming Ex-Colonial Constabularies

Synopsis

Police and Crime Control in Jamaica is a valuable addition to the sparse literature on policing in developing states, and is the first study of its kind on a police force in a Caribbean territory. The work examines the extent and sources of police ineffectiveness in controlling crime. It assesses the quality of justice and declining public confidence in the criminal justice system. Police reform efforts, as well as sources of cynicism among members of the force, are analysed.

This study of policing and citizen-state relations is especially relevant to the tourism-dependent countries of the Caribbean amid growing recognition of the negative impact of high rates of violent crime on these economies.

This book will be much valued by students of criminology and criminal justice, especially those with an interest in the Caribbean, as well as the general reader who is concerned with issues of crime and policing.

Excerpt

Crime control has become a central developmental issue and an important public policy concern in most Caribbean territories. These tourism-dependent economies have become more vulnerable to violent crime, yet more criminogenic. In the case of Jamaica (which is perhaps the most problematic), the high rates of violent crime and insecurity among all segments of the population are matched by declining public confidence in the criminal justice system and growing cynicism among its functionaries.

There is a greater recognition of the negative impact of crime on these economies in reducing their attractiveness to investment capital, increasing the proportion of the public resources spent on treating the victims of violent crimes and its potential for frustrating broader development goals. For example, it is estimated that the developing countries spend between 9 and 14 percent of their national budgets on crime prevention and criminal justice. This contrasts with the developed countries, which spend 2 to 3 percent of their budgets for similar purposes [United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice 1992]. In many developing countries, the capacity of the state to provide for the physical security of its citizens, as well as effectively maintain order and a social environment conducive to development, is increasingly being questioned.

This has helped to induce a shift in the political agenda from concerns with change and social justice to the preservation of order. The movement away from social reformism, as well as the use of social policy as a prophylactic rather than a developmental instrument, is accompanied by a more punitive approach to crime control. Consequently, the state control agencies have been put under greater strain, at the same time as there has been greater élite commitment to improving the efficacy of the police, as evidenced by the number of state commissioned reports [cf. Teten 1991; Herst 1991; Wolfe 1993].

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