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  • National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, is assuring the business community of Montego Bay that the Government and members of the police force are working hard to address the high level of murders in St. James.
  • He said policing measures and other interventions are being rolled out, which will result in a decline “in short order”.
  • Minister Bunting reported that over 100 additional police officers have been deployed to the parish and some 19 closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras have been installed at strategic areas.

National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, is assuring the business community of Montego Bay that the Government and members of the police force are working hard to address the high level of murders in St. James.

He said policing measures and other interventions are being rolled out, which will result in a decline “in short order”.

Minister Bunting, who was addressing members of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry at their Union Street offices on Thursday, July 30, reported that over 100 additional police officers have been deployed to the parish and some 19 closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras have been installed at strategic areas.

This is in addition to improving the mobility of the police through the acquisition of motor vehicles.

Minister Bunting informed that in addition to motor cars, 60 trail-type bikes will come on stream shortly, with most of them being deployed to rural areas such as Montego Bay.

“The bikes that we are getting, only about 15 of them are kitted out as the traditional police bikes…the other 45 are trail bikes where patrols of two policemen can go up into any little tracks, and these will be deployed in some of the rural areas in some of the informal communities,” he informed.

Minister Bunting admitted that the high number of murders in the parish since the start of the year “is worrying” and is primarily related to the lottery scam.

“We have seen a 77 per cent increase in murders…up to June 15, when we looked at 150-something murders in Area One, 36 per cent of them could be directly linked to  lottery scamming activities…when we try to look at the spike, there is definitely a strong correlation between lottery scamming activities and murders,” he pointed out.

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative, Lloyd B. Smith, who also addressed the meeting, said tackling crime in the parish requires a united approach.

“This is not something that can be dealt with only by the Minister of National Security or the police. It has to involve the entire community,” he said.

Mr. Smith noted that a number of business operators in Montego Bay have been taking a “hands-off approach” as they have not been adversely affected by the scourge of crime and violence. He said, however, that the time has come for the “laid-back” attitude to be cast aside and “all hands should be placed on deck.”

“I think the time has come when everybody, including hoteliers, including those in the wider Montego Bay community must get involved because it is only a matter of time before this scourge of criminality spreads its wings. We have seen the brazenness of some of our criminals and we see that they can become even more brazen if certain steps are not taken,” he said.

The Deputy House Speaker, who is also Member of Parliament for Central St. James, called on Justices of the Peace (JP) and other change agents to help  prevent crimes, by becoming mentors to those in their communities, deemed to be “trouble- makers.”

“I would love to see the Justices of the Peace getting out there, becoming mentors, becoming interventionists in terms of going into some of these communities. We need the Social Development Commission, the CSJP (Citizen Security and Justice Programme), and the PMI (Peace Management Initiative) and if we can find a way to get into these communities through social interventions …all of us can play a part,” he said.

Following the meeting, the Minister toured sections of Mount Salem, which is among communities showing a major increase in crime since the start of the year.

He was accompanied by Minister of State in the Ministry of Investment, Industry and Commerce, and Member of Parliament for West Central St. James, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams.