Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, says the significant reduction in criminal activities that has been achieved over the past few months, particularly in the Corporate Area, is due to the police’s ongoing efforts to dismantle criminal gangs and other organised crimes.
“We are pleased to say that there are several divisions in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) that have seen very dramatic reduction in criminal activities…I can speak of the divisions in the Corporate Area as examples. The Kingston Central division, which averaged over 100 murders per year in the recent past, and completed last year with under 20 murders, year to date, has recorded three murders,” he said.
Mr. Ellington was speaking at a press conference at his Old Hope Road offices in Kingston, on April 2.
He pointed out that this trend has been replicated across the Corporate Area divisions, noting that the divisions which had accounted for over 70 per cent of all violent crimes, have now moved to about 30 per cent.
“We achieved those results in Kingston and elsewhere in Jamaica, because we are focusing on dismantling the gangs and organised crimes. In downtown Kingston there were very significant criminal gangs that controlled the community. They battled for control of market space – the extortion protection racket; they were involved in armed robberies and other (crimes). Since we have been able to remove those gangs and their leadership and pacify others, we’re able to restore that amount of security and stability to the Corporate Area,” he explained.
The Commissioner said although divisions such as St. Catherine North and Clarendon “have not reached the level where we want them to go,” they too are achieving significant successes against the gangs. He said divisions in Montego Bay have also achieved significant successes against gangs.
In the meantime, Mr. Ellington said the first three months of the year yielded significant reductions in serious crimes.
“We started the year with a spike in murders in the first week of January, close to 40 murders. We have, since then, instituted some measures which have significantly contained that situation. So, although the first week of January recorded 40 murders, the weeks of March averaged under 15 murders. In fact, we completed the month of March with the lowest murder count for any single month in the last nine years,” he informed.
Of great significance, the Commissioner cited the sharp decline in sexual offences of rape and carnal abuse. He informed that rapes are down by 24 per cent, while carnal abuse is down by 51 per cent.
“We have shown significant improvement as well in our seizure of illegal firearms from criminal hands. Year to date, we have seized over 138 illegal firearms which compare to 122 for the similar period last year. We have, so far, seized over 1,400 rounds of assorted ammunition,” he said.
The Commissioner added that, year to date, fewer fatal shootings by the police have been recorded, than for the similar time last year. “Year to date, we have recorded 56 fatal shootings. Last year, up to the end of March, that number was 60,” he said.
“Despite these decreases, the crime figures are still very high. We have been at pains to point out that the crime and security situation created by criminal gangs, organised crime and corrupt entities in Jamaica are undermining public confidence and investor confidence and denying many Jamaicans the opportunity for gainful employment as businesses contract or those with capital are hesitant to invest,” he said.
Mr. Ellington asserted that the police are committed to reducing Jamaica’s murder rate to within 12 per 100,000 of the population by the year 2017 and restoring citizens’ and investor confidence in Jamaica, so that the economy can grow.
“We would like to appeal to individuals with capital to invest, to look seriously at Kingston. We have contributed, we have done our part and the city is open for business and we are giving public assurance that we will continue to maintain the levels of policing presence and operations in downtown Kingston, so that we can restore investor confidence and protect commerce for those who wish to invest in commercial activities,” he said.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter