Accurate and standardised crime data is needed to inform decisions that would assist in minimizing crime and its impacts.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Celia Pollard-Jones, underscored this point, as she addressed a three-day regional workshop on the Implementation of the International Crime Classification for Statistical (ICCS) purposes at the Courtyard by Marriott on Tuesday.
Noting that the ICCS fell under the USAID/UNDP CariSecure Project, Mrs. Pollard-Jones explained that the project’s overall goal was to strengthen evidence-based decision-making systems for citizens’ security locally and regionally.
She further noted that the ICCS was aimed at bringing a greater understanding of crime to the forefront and outlined the modus operandi of offenders. “The who, what, where, why and when questions asked by researchers are sometimes difficult to answer due to the lack of reliable and standardised data.
“Effective solutions to crime can, however, be achieved through being able to continuously answer these questions,” Mrs. Pollard-Jones said. She added that the classification could also provide a greater understanding of the seriousness of the criminal act and the targets for crimes.
The Permanent Secretary told regional participants that, as a result, the time had come for law enforcement and other agencies to pool resources and share information that would bring solutions to crime.
That, she said, meant that all criminal justice agencies needed to work together to strengthen existing data collection systems as they shared common problems.
She reasoned that these experiences could be used to make comparisons in crime trends and develop “workable” solutions. “This must begin with all of us speaking the same language regarding how we classify crime and treat crime data,” Mrs. Pollard-Jones said.
However, she acknowledged that changes would have to be made to the programmes to make them more culturally relevant. “I anticipate that with the implementation of the CariSecure project there will be stronger and more robust data management systems that will assist the police, the judiciary, and the penal institutions in collecting information on the victims and perpetrators of crime.
“I also envisage that this would be a useful tool to allow us to map crime across the country in real time,” she pointed out.
She explained that it was on such premises that the Barbados Crime Observatory, housed at the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit, was established. Its primary aim is to be the central depository on crime data that would allow for analysis and decision-making.
The ICCS ensures that there is a deep understanding of the characteristics of victims, perpetrators, their motives, and the context of the crime. It is also an essential element to strengthen research and crime prevention policies.