Sat | Nov 18, 2017

Bloodshed - All but 4 of 19 police divisions report spike in murders

Published:Wednesday | November 15, 2017 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett

All but four of the 19 police divisions across the island have reported an increase in murders, some by more than 100 per cent, as the bloodletting by marauding criminals continues unabated.

At the top of the list, according to the latest statistics compiled by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), is the St James Police Division, which is closing in on a record 300 reported murders in a calendar year.

St James, home to some of the top resort hotels in the region, has recorded 273 murders since January 1 this year, surpassing the 265 killings reported for all of last year and cementing its unenviable reputation as the nation's murder capital.

Between January 1 and last weekend, there were 144 killings in Clarendon, 18 per cent more than the corresponding period last year; 141 in the St Andrew South Division, more than double the 64 recorded for the similar period last year; 128 in Westmoreland, a 50 per cent increase over last year; and 116 in St Catherine North, for a three per cent increase over last year.

By comparison, only five murders have been recorded in Portland all year, half the number for the similar period last year. The other police divisions that saw a decrease in homicides were Trelawny, down from 25 last year to 16 so far this year; St Mary, which declined from 30 to 17; and Kingston Central, down from 44 to 26.

A total of 1,386 persons have been murdered across the island since the start of the year, 281, or 25 per cent, more than for the corresponding period last year.

Fitz Jackson, opposition spokesman on national security, blasted the Andrew Holness administration as being "callous and seemingly numb to the killings".

He said despite calls from the parliamentary Opposition, as well as civil society and business groups for a national approach, the Government has stoutly resisted "in favour of a knee-jerk and piecemeal response to the issues of crime, public safety and public order.

"Since the incumbency of the Holness-led administration, there has been no attempt at a comprehensive national policy to deal with the growing monster of crime, which has seen a [25] per cent rise in murder," Jackson said in a letter to The Gleaner.

"Not even a request for national dialogue has been entertained. The Government chooses to turn its back on advice and continues to flounder in darkness as they refuse to take counsel," Jackson charged.

The latest police statistics paint a damning picture of how murders have increased dramatically in the second half of the year.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com