If you want good, yuh nose afi run“- Jamaican Proverb.The idea of introducing a National Identification System carries much thought processing, in fact, it required technological research, social acceptance and importantly, the economic value. The NIDS has several features to it and for which can be agreed, both negative and positive. For most of us in the Security Industry; public or private, we would have had some amount of knowledge about biometric systems and could appreciate the many concerns raised by most of those who sit external of the Security Industry.


The term “biometrics” is a Greek word, “bio” (life) and “metrics” (to measure).There are approximately fifteen (15) types of biometric systems such as Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Matching, Ear Recognition, Iris Recognition, Retina Recognition, Face Recognition, Fingerprint Recognition, Fingerprint Geometry Recognition, Gait, Hand Geometry Recognition, Odour, Signature Recognition, Typing Recognition, Vein Recognition, Voice Speaking authentication and Voice Speaking Identification. All these systems carry two things in common, your biodata and its robotic capability. However, biometrics is not new to Jamaica and neither are they new to our homes. The first type of real biometric is the human’s ability to recognize the face and the voice of someone positively, a process that is simply called “memory”. A biometric system (electric) however, has several components to it; such as the user, information input, electronic identifier, hard drive/memory, power supply and information output.

Presently, biometric data can be found at the Fingerprint Office, the Police Station, the Hospital, the Blood Bank, Airports, Embassies, Public and Private spaces through CCTV or just by signing an electronic signature to receive a parcel from your favourite shipping company. The concern, however, is the availability of all these data in one server, accessible by an unauthorized person. These concerns are valid and should be addressed if owners of this personal information are to give these up in the interest of National Security.


Jamaica is by far under-performing in both trade and local investments. This, therefore, gives the government little or no room to increase its manpower in the security forces to detect and deter criminal activities. While many governments around the world, including Jamaica, is trying to squeeze the rhyme out of every dollar to improve its overall operation, by an increase in revenue collection and reduces losses, while simultaneously staying competitive against first world countries across the globe is mammoth of a task. Many businessmen and women will tell you, that a technologically driven business or organization is far more effective and efficient in service delivery than those that are heavily manned physically. The Bio-metric System bring its innovation to Jamaica’s number one most growing problem of crime.

Crime in Jamaica is said to be fueled by various elements such as politics, poverty and illiteracy. However, while the Government of Jamaica seemingly is making headway in reducing poverty by creating employment, increasing education by increasing educational opportunity by way of training and creating feasible financial options; crime remains undaunted and uninspired by these efforts. Interestingly, in 2015, crime has trended upward registering 1,205 murders, 589 aggravated assault, 577 rape, 1,904 robberies and 1,777 break-in, of which only 45% of homicide suspects are arrested and 7% convicted annually. This data is a call for concern and a call for action. The Jamaica Constabulary Force in recent time has improved its standard of training by partnering with the University of the West Indies. In addition, the JCF has increased screening of its recruits through the implementation of polygraph test (Lie Detector), to ensure that the JCF recruits the best to service Jamaica.

In assessing the unique crime situation which Jamaica finds itself in, technologies such as video surveillance and bio-metric has been introduced in an effort to fight the monstrous crime. One of the positives of the NIDS is its availability of data collection on all its citizens. This database of information serves as a deterrent to citizens with criminal intentions and also greatly assist law enforcers to timely and efficiently identify suspects in a crime. In the case of rape, aggravated assault, and robbery, there is a high percentage that evidence from the aggressor, perpetrator or adversary will be left on the scene. In processing the scene of the crime, evidence of bio-data collected can be compared with data available in the NIDS system to identify a possible suspect. While the law enforcers will not solely rely on this data as the “GOD” of the investigation, it will, however, aid greatly to narrow cases for a possible positive prosecution and reduce the many present nolle prosequ and dismissal of charges, which amounts to wastage of resources. There is but one question to ask, will a citizen with criminal intention, commit a crime knowing that he /she most like will be caught and successfully prosecuted?

Notwithstanding the positive effects of the NIDS, the main concerns rest with the negative effects. According to the Jamaica Crime and Safety Report 2016, crime in Jamaica is often unsolved mainly because there is a high level of doubts in the justice system and a belief that members of the security forces are in collusion with the criminals. With this type of strong opinion, citizens remain afraid that by giving up this bio-data, they will be tied to a crime which they have not committed, all in an effort to remove the real suspect from the crime and subsequently from being arrested and charged.

In the final analysis, the Government of Jamaica must demonstrate to its citizens that their personal information is secured. Jamaicans would be more optimistic about this crime-fighting approach if the power to release the bio-data solely rest with the Court of Jamaica and under the supervision of the Prime Minister of Jamaica, whom also, must use bio-data to release this information, therefore, ensuring that assessing this information cannot be easily compromised. The people of Jamaica deserves this commitment.

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