KINGSTON — The number of murders committed over the past 12 months is the lowest since 2003, says Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding.
Making his contribution to the 2011/12 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives, today (May 10), Mr. Golding informed that crime statistics for this year have shown a significant reduction in most major crimes, with a decline in murders by 44 per cent; shootings by 36 per cent; and break-ins by 13 per cent.
He also noted that the number of fatal shootings by the police has been reduced by 37 per cent, adding that the number of persons arrested by the police is up by 50 per cent.
“Crime fighting operations are being driven by better intelligence, better investigations and a re-invigorated determination to put criminals where they belong – behind bars,” Mr. Golding said.
The Prime Minister said even though there has been a 44 per cent reduction in murders, the battle is not over as “the figure is still too high and we must continue to give the security forces every possible support in their efforts,” adding that reducing crime is a major priority of the Government.
To this end, he said that last year six anti-crime Bills were approved that have contributed to the success that the security forces have been able to achieve. “We have now completed the drafting of the Organised Crime Act to enable the security forces to more effectively tackle and dismantle those gangs. It will be brought to Parliament shortly,” he said.
Additionally, last year the regulations for plea bargaining were approved and brought into force and are helping to secure the imprisonment of violent offenders who might otherwise have escaped conviction.
“We have also completed the drafting of the DNA Evidence Bill to allow for the use of DNA samples in crime scene investigation and criminal prosecution. This will make a huge difference in securing the conviction of criminal offenders and I urge Parliament to deal with it with dispatch when it arrives,” he urged.
Mr. Golding thanked members of the public who are demonstrating increased confidence in the police and are providing valuable information and co-operation in helping to rid their communities of criminal predators.“ I wish to commend Police Commissioner Owen Ellington for the leadership he has displayed, the management that he has brought to the Force, the effective strategies that he is deploying and the way in which he has been able to inspire and mobilise the men and women under his command to rise to this important task,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Golding said he had the pleasure of attending the graduation exercise for the most recent batch of police recruits, and of the 209 members, 43 are university graduates, 11 of whom have Masters degrees. “All of them enlisted as constables but will have the opportunity for accelerated promotion. We are improving the quality of the Force for better performance and greater effectiveness,” he emphasised.
“I commend, as well, the new Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Antony Anderson, for his astute leadership and the indispensible support that the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) is providing in the fight against crime,” he said.
The Prime Minister thanked the men and women of both the Police and the JDF, “who put their lives on the line every day to protect the nation and its citizens." He also commended the Minister of National Security and his team for the effective support and policy direction they provide in the fight against crime.
By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter