Can data be the answer to unveiling the pathway to reducing crime? Answers to this pertinent question flooded the virtual auditorium as regional agencies, national partners, security personnel and the general public joined in a two-day conference to discuss, examine and analyse data’s role in the future of citizen security in the region. The Citizen Security Conference, under the auspices of the Strengthening Evidence Based Decision Making for Citizen Security in the Caribbean (CariSECURE) project was held from 31 August to 1 September 2021 for regional collaboration on citizen security, both with in-person sessions and virtual dialogues. In addition to the showcases and discussions, there were several high-profile activities included in the conference, a pinnacle of which were the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremonies between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Regional Security System (RSS), and CARICOM IMPACS.
Speaking to the renewed partnership, Clinton White, USAID’s Regional Representative said, “Our shared vision with IMPACS and RSS is to build crime and violence data infrastructure that can conduct regional system-wide analysis to expand knowledge and inform public policy both nationally and regionally”. White added, “We envision rich data analysis on national and regional crime trends that can support countries with their criminal justice policies and innovative crime strategies. This is a proud moment for the region, and USAID is honored to be a part of this momentous occasion”.
The conference was also the platform for the launch of the Regional Crime Observatory (RCO) at the Regional Security System (RSS) on 31 August, and CARICOM Crime Observatory (CCO) at CARICOM IMPACS on 1 September. Elucidating on the importance of the work of CariSECURE, Valerie Cliff, Resident Representative UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, expressed her support for the conference which provided the public with an all-day virtual exhibit where they could learn more about CariSECURE’s work, the products developed and their real-world applications. “The conference creates a space for us to collaborate with partners, donors, citizen security experts and leaders to share knowledge, experiences and lessons learned and opportunities for collaboration within the context of strengthening evidence-based decision-making in the region’s citizen security sector,” she stated.
The CariSECURE Project is designed to improve youth crime and violence policymaking and programming in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Republic of Suriname, using quality, comparable and reliable national citizen security information. The Project is one of three components under the broader USAID Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Project, funded by USAID and implemented by the UNDP. To date, the project received US$9.365 million in USAID funding with the final tranche of US$200,000 being awarded at the Conference. CariSECURE aims to increase the institutional and technical capacity of regional bodies, selected national government systems and community stakeholders to reduce risk factors that drive youth crime, violence, and victimization.