This case study briefly describes protective security improvements introduced across all agencies of the Government of Jamaica (GoJ). The improvements were part of a national civil service modernisation program, delivered as a World Bank international development assistance project.
Jamaica is a nation of some three million in the Caribbean Sea, often viewed solely as an exotic tropical resort paradise. Similar to nations such as Australia and New Zealand, Jamaica is an Anglophone Commonwealth Realm sharing Queen Elizabeth II as monarch, with political institutions familiar to Australians, and they are also keen cricketers. Contrary to the carefree image of Jamaica as a land of resorts, reggae and Rastafarians, however, the GoJ confronts continuing security concerns including money laundering, internal and international drug and weapons trafficking, violent crime primarily committed by organised gangs affiliated with the major political parties, and corruption of officials.
The central location of Jamaica in the Caribbean makes it an attractive transit point for South American cocaine bound for the USA, and a preferred destination for money laundering by drug cartels. The resorts such as those on the North Coast around Montego Bay, and rural areas, are usually safe and peaceful, as tourism is an important source of foreign exchange, yet the political and business capital Kingston (population about 600,000) suffers high crime rates fuelled by poverty and gang turf wars. These and related factors combine to present Jamaican authorities with significant external and internal security challenges, not least the scope for corruption of officials by money derived from drug and weapon trafficking.
The GoJ recognised the need to expand and enhance systems and procedures to protect vital official national assets including personnel, information, and equipment, and their reputation as a trusted nation; the GoJ accordingly required improvements to whole of Government protective security management.
The protective security modernisation project was managed from the national headquarters of the GoJ Ministry of National Security (MNS), located in the seven storey NCB Complex, one of the few high-rise buildings in Kingston. The MNS mission is ‘ … to contribute towards creating a safe and secure Jamaica by the effective enforcement of law and order and maintenance of secure borders’. The MNS has wide responsibilities for administering the National Security Policy of Jamaica and related crime prevention and public order issues, including providing guidance to all other Government agencies on protective security standards.
More than 200 MNS officers are stationed at the NCB headquarters. The Minister and senior executives, such as the Permanent Secretary and Chief Technical Director, are also located at the NCB HQ. The MNS portfolio includes the Jamaican Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA).
The MNS Protective Security Unit (PSU) processes applications for restricted and banned items permits and entry of non-commercial ships into Jamaica’s territorial waters, and coordinates security vetting for prospective Ministry employees. The PSU assists in formulating and implementing policy on drugs, small arms, human trafficking, border security, ports security, aerodrome and airport security. The PSU also has primary carriage of implementing whole of Government protective security standards, including maintaining an effective network of security advisers in line agencies.
A comprehensive protective security risk review and site inspection of the MNS HQ and other official sites was conducted during the project, resulting in recommendations to reduce the likelihood and mitigate the consequences of the most highly rated risk events (security breaches and incidents).