Like its neighbours in the northern triangle (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala), Belize has a high murder rate that is closely connected to the strong presence of gangs. But the character of gang activity in Belize is quite different from its Central American neighbours. Belize has pioneered some innovative solutions to the problem it is facing. But it will need to overcome the challenges of internal resistance and an acute lack of resources in order to address the political, economic and social issues that marginalise Belize’s large youth population.
Facing a myriad of public security challenges that have provoked some of the highest indices of crime and violence in the world, authorities in Central America have followed a variety of different responses, ranging from repressive and reactive policies to grass roots prevention. Of these approaches, the Nicaraguan National Police’s Proactive Community Policing model stands out due to the results it has achieved. In the second of our two-part discussion, ‘Countering Militarisation of Public Security in Latin America’, Matt Budd explores the lessons that Latin American countries can extract from Nicaragua’s unique approach to public security.