Grenada on board with USAID/UNDP’s CariSECURE Project
National Task Force established
Grenada is now on board with implementing the USAID/UNDP’s CariSECURE Project which seeks to institutionalise evidence-based decision-making to ensure citizen security.
A National Task Force was established comprising of several stakeholders including senior public officers and technical officers with responsibility for information management and crime prevention. Over the next few days these officers will be introduced to the Caribbean Citizen Security Toolkit which will standardise the collection of crime, violence, and victimisation data by law enforcement personnel.
The project is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) with US$14 billion funding from the United States Agency for International Development Mission for Eastern and Southern Caribbean (USAID/ESC).
So far 8 Caribbean territories have endorsed the project at the cabinet level including Grenada, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent, St Lucia, Suriname, and Barbados.
The CariSECURE Project is one of 3 components of the USAID Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Project which ultimately seeks to curb youths involved in criminal activities in the region. The two other components are the Juvenile Justice Reform Project and Community Family and Youth Resilience Project.
Programme Management Specialist (Rule of Law) Sharon Ramsaran says under the CariSECURE Project, the criminal justice system in Grenada will be strengthened to be able to collect and analyse data in order to understand root causes of crime. “We are going to work with you and the other Caribbean territories to strengthen your systems to allow you to collect valid reliable data to use that data to conduct the analysis to understand the root causes of crime, and to make the decision not just at the policy level but also from a programming level. For instance, at the police station, how are you doing your police tactical strategy? and within the detention facilities, what kind of rehabilitation programmes you need? and for your probation and court system what sort of alternative sentencing option and probation services do you need to implement?”
Ramsaran explained that under the Community, Family and Youth Resilience Project, youth at varying risk levels of getting involved in criminal activities will receive necessary interventions. “Low-risk youths are targeted with interventions such as afterschool programmes, skills building programmes to allow them to become more employable. At the secondary level where you have youth at a higher propensity of getting involved in violence, we are targeting them by bringing together youth and family together and deliver an intervention that deals with family counselling. The 3rd level focuses on youth in conflict with the law.”
Ramsaran says the project was further expanded upon despite its completion in 2016 and now focuses on diverting juvenile offenders of minor crimes away from the juvenile court system. “The second phase focuses on diversion of juveniles who have committed minor offences away from the juvenile court system into programmes and intervention that respond to their needs. But for those children who are repeat offenders or may have committed more serious crimes and have to be placed in juvenile centres like the Grand Bacolet Juvenile Centre, we will work alongside these facilities to strengthen the rehabilitation programmes, not just your traditional vocation and skills training programmes but really look at the cognitive behavioural therapy treatment.”
Delivering the feature address, Acting Prime Minister Gregory Bowen spoke of the importance of curbing youth violence. “The urgency of the solving the issue of youth and crime is even compelling when one considers that approximately 60% of Grenada’s population is below the age of 35. However, the action of the significant subset of our population has a profound impact on wider social wellbeing of the entire population and the economic performance of Grenada, therefore peace and stability and low crime is a powerful economic tool for our small island.”
Minister Bowen emphasised that despite knowing the role of poverty, unemployment and social inequalities in giving rise to criminal activities, Grenada is still in the dark with regards to the interplay of these contributing factors and how they affect behavioural patterns of young people.
He said with the commencement of the CariSECURE Project, data will be available to understand how these contributing factors influence criminal activities. “From a social unscientific view, we see that our men are at risk, but do we have the data, yes we do, but not in the format that CariSECURE will ensure that we have it.”
The CariSECURE Project commenced in July 2016 and is expected to be concluded by 2020.