Editorial

JamaicaEye — A critical tool in the fight for the country's future

Friday, March 16, 2018

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The Government, and National Security Minister Robert Montague in particular, deserve commendation for the roll-out of JamaicaEye, the national closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance programme which was officially launched on Wednesday.

Minister Montague, we recall, had promised some months ago that this system would be up and running soon. In fact, we recall him saying that the Government is expanding its CCTV capacity and is spending $465.4 million on the purchase of additional telecommunications equipment.

We reiterate that the use of technology is vital in any anti-crime effort. Anyone who doubts that need look no further than the experience of the Metropolitan Police after the attempted bombings of July 21, 2005 in London. CCTV footage released by that police service helped in the arrests and eventual conviction of four men who had attempted to replicate suicide bombings that had killed 52 people two weeks earlier in that city.

Last December, in this space, we also pointed to the effectiveness of China's Dragonfly Eye CCTV system which has been helping the police in Shanghai, a city with more than 24 million inhabitants, track down and apprehend criminals.

Indeed, within three months of that system up and running, the Shanghai police had detained 567 suspected criminals on their subways, as it is able to match faces against a database and send photos to cops on the streets.

JamaicaEye, we note, has been launched with 180 cameras owned and operated by the State in May Pen, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Mandeville, and Kingston. The number, we accept, is small, but it's a start. As such, we endorse Minister Montague's call for Jamaicans to purchase CCTV systems and have them linked to the national system because, as he correctly stated, this is an opportunity for citizens to help in the fight against crime.

It would have been better, though, if Minister Montague was able to tell the country on Wednesday that a waiver on General Consumption Tax, import duties, and special consumption tax had already been secured to allow more people to purchase and import CCTVs, rather than that his ministry would be negotiating with the Ministry of Finance on this issue.

We agree with him that mandatory link to the JamaicaEye should be a condition of this benefit, and we implore Jamaicans who can afford it to invest in systems that provide clean, high-resolution images, as those will have even greater effect in identifying perpetrators of criminal acts.

We must state, however, that CCTV systems are not a panacea to the crime problems we face. And even as we are aware that the Government is making headway in acquiring other necessary tools to help law enforcers, we must remind the public that we all have a duty to share information about criminal activity with the authorities.

As we have consistently pointed out in these columns, there are many avenues open to the public to give information — avenues that won't compromise personal safety. Use them.

This is a fight for the country's future.

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