The operational framework for the development of a Belize Crime Observatory (BCO) was created through the Inter-American Observatory Project, which began in October 2011 in the country of Belize. This project was funded through the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program of Canada, and facilitated by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) of the Secretariat of Multidimensional Security of Organization of American States (OAS). The fundamental aim of the project is to strengthen:
- Information Management Systems
- Strengthen Analysis of Crime and Violence Data
- Improve Public Security in the Region
In May 2013, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of National Security, with the support of the National Security Council (NSC) agreed to have the Belize Crime Observatory included as part of the larger expanding National Intelligence Framework of the Ministry of National Security; specifically, the BCO would be integrated as a support agency which would provide added value to the Joint Operations & Intelligence Center (JIOC). The BCO currently falls under the mandate of the National Security Council Secretariat, and is staffed by technicians within the NSCS, and supported by the Belize Police Department Statistical Unit.
In August 2014, a Technical Cooperation Agreement for the establishment of a Crime Observatory in Belize was approved by the Inter-American Development Bank, and as such, the then Ministry of National Security was awarded US$100,000 to further develop the BCO; additionally, in April 2015, the Ministry of National Security was also awarded additional funding ($107,000.00 2015 and 2016) through the Evidence Based Information Management for Citizen Security Project (InfoSegura Project), which is a three year regional project (2015-2017) aimed to provide support for the strengthening of evidence-based policy decision making in the Central American region. The InfoSegura project is funded by the USAID and is executed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with shared responsibility for implementation by the National Security Council Secretariat and the Ministry of Human Development.
The Belize Crime Observatory was launched on October 25th, 2016, with the objective to provide data and information, for both public and internal use.
The Belize Crime Observatory: supporting improvements in citizen security by informing, interpreting, and influencing our understanding of crime The Belize Crime Observatory is the national service for informing, interpreting, and influencing our understanding of crime and supporting the promotion of public safety and citizen security:
- Informing – a central hub for the collation, use and publishing of information relating to crime
- Interpreting – an analysis and research service that examines and interprets data relating to crime
- Influencing –a central depository of accessible information and analytical findings on crime for the purpose of influencing decision-making on strategies and policies relating to policing and public safety, and promoting improvements in citizen security.
In the wake of technological advances in the area of crime analysis, Central America and the Caribbean have been striving to keep up with the rest of the world and to standardize indicators associated with the reporting of data on crime. Evidence based prevention strategies have, in recent years, gained much popularity in our region with the establishment of observatories dedicated to the compilation and analysis of data regarding crime and violence. There has also been increased interest in fostering citizen participation and citizen reporting to develop public strategies and policies aimed to alleviate manifestations of crime and violence within their communities. Consequently, through relations with the Central American Integration System (SICA) and the SICA Observatory and Index on Democratic Security (OBSICA), Belize has joined other Central American nations in the endeavor to “develop and strengthen the capacities of civil society organizations and SICA member states so that can produce, use and spread strategic information on regional security, criminality and violence prevention in Central America.”
As part of this initiative, the Evidence based Information Management on Citizen Security in Central America (InfoSegura Project) was extended to Belize to facilitate the establishment of a national crime and violence observatory for the country. Through relations between the Government of Belize and the InfoSegura Project which is sponsored by USAID and implemented by UNDP, the Observatory was launched on the 25th of October, 2016.
The “InfoSegura” project aims to strengthen policy-making based on evidence, through the improvement of the quality and comparability of regional statistics and enhanced coordination and collaboration in effective Citizen Security strategies in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The project aims to achieve two results: a. Strengthening of the design of policies based on evidence, and b. Strengthening of the capacities to analyse and provide information for decision-making about Citizen Security policies. These results will be achieved through three components:
- By improving the regional and national capacities for collection, monitoring and processing of information on citizen security and their use in decision-making and policy formulation on both levels
- By strengthening the capacities of the civil society to collect, analyse and process data on citizen security and monitor policies and Citizen Security programs
- By supporting knowledge management at the regional level to deepen knowledge and understanding of the root causes of violence and insecurity, and promote successful policies and practices of citizen security.
Products include: indicators and baselines on the sensitive and comprehensive citizen security information, including issues of gender, strengthening of databases, sheets, techniques and methodologies for data analysis, and the formulation of policies and protocols for data analysis as well as development of victimization surveys, mechanisms and capabilities of inter-agency coordination. The process seeks to create permanent national mechanisms for the collection and analysis of information, and to strengthen the leadership of the system of Central American Integration (SICA) and its role as the Coordinator in the region through OBSICA.
The project is funded by USAID, and implemented by UNDP through the Regional coordination unit in El Salvador and supported by the national teams of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama. The project takes advantage of the presence of UNDP in all the countries of Central America, and strong working relationships with the key national and regional actors in the target countries, including SICA, USAID and other agencies of the UN system, civil society organizations and institutions of national and regional governments. The project is managed by the Regional Coordination Unit located in El Salvador, under the general supervision of the Regional Centre of UNDP in Panama, who will act as the strategic partner of USAID and SICA. The UNDP country offices will be responsible for the implementation of the project activities in their respective countries under the general supervision of the Regional Unit and the UNDP Regional Centre.