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The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is reporting a 22 per cent reduction in murders last year, compared to 2010, as a result of the numerous anti-crime strategies employed.

Police statistics show an overall decline of 17.1 per cent in serious violent crimes, relative to last year, with a 13 per cent reduction in shootings contributing to the decrease.

These figures were revealed by Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, during a press conference held today (January 18) at the Police Officer’s Club on Hope Road, in Kingston.

"Last year was a fairly good one for us in law enforcement and certainly Jamaica, because we completed the year (2011) with an almost 23 per cent reduction in murders," he said.

Commissioner Ellington said the force is working towards bringing the murder toll, in particular, within the range of 12 per 100,000 of the population, “so that crime and insecurity may no longer be a major concern for people who live in Jamaica, who work in Jamaica, and who have any intention to invest in this country."

He noted that although murders peaked in 2009, recording almost 1,700 murders, 2010 saw a significant drop, with the reduction continuing in 2011. Mr. Ellington added that the JCF has “very ambitious targets for 2012 and the years beyond," as the force works to bring the crime figures, particularly murders and serious violent crime figures, to tolerable levels.   

The Commissioner pointed out that for 2011, 15 of the 19 geographic police divisions, which are the divisions mainly responsible for service dispensing and policing communities, completed the year with declines in murders. He informed that St. Andrew South, Clarendon, St. Catherine North and South divisions, St. James, St. Andrew Central and other divisions realised significant declines throughout the year, and it is hoped that further gains will be seen.

Mr. Ellington noted that law enforcement was able to realise reductions in murders, due to its anti-crime strategies, focusing on the dismantling of gangs and tackling organised crime, having recognised that 70 to 80 per cent of serious violent crimes committed in Jamaica are attributed to the activities of gangs and organised crimes.

"There are some divisions that didn’t show decline, but they have contributed in a significant way as well as to the declines that we have seen in other divisions, because of the work the men and women did in those divisions to disrupt gangs, to deny gangs access to critical infrastructure and to deny them the freedom of movement and freedom of action that they need to move around the place,” the Commissioner explained.

Mr. Ellington said the JCF intends to continue with its anti-crime strategies this year, focusing mainly on a counter-gang strategy which, if successful, could disrupt some gangs, displace some gang members, degrade the capabilities of some gangs, and hopefully, defeat and demolish some gangs.

"We intend to pursue this by improved intelligence for policing and we made significant progress in the last two years in revamping the national intelligence architecture. We now have rich, timely intelligence going to our men and women on the front line, which is enabling them to do much better work," the Commissioner informed.

He further pointed out that the approximately 10,000 police officers on the front line have been made "the primary customers" of the National Intelligence Bureau which is a major strategic shift, moving the emphasis away from strategic communication to operational communication, which then drives the efforts of the police on the ground.

The Commissioner informed that the JCF is also in the process of expanding a partnership strategy, which he says is the vehicle being used to engage the communities, and getting greater support and collaboration from the citizens in the communities, especially those in which the force has made significant inroads against the gangs.

"All of these we intend to continue during the current year, and we count on the support of the citizens in our various communities to be patient with us, because there are occasions when we are going to be doing extraordinary operations, which could impinge on their own freedom to move around," Mr. Ellington said.

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