KINGSTON — Minister of National Security, Hon Dwight Nelson, has reported a 44 per cent reduction in murders, during the first quarter of 2011 (January – March), compared to the corresponding period of 2010.
He said during the period 238 murders were committed, compared to 426 for the corresponding quarter of last year.
However, speaking at a press conference at the Police Officers’ Club, Kingston, Thursday April 7, Senator Nelson said that, although the Government welcomes the reduction, it could not take comfort from the figures.
“We cannot sit on the laurels of the achievement of the reduction in figures, because the figure is still too high,” Senator Nelson said.
“So, we will continue our pursuit and we are determined, and I am assured that the members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) share this determination and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF)…to slash the crime rate,” he said.
The Security Minister also reported a 14 per cent decline in major crimes committed during the quarter, including murder, shooting, rape, carnal abuse, robbery, break-ins and larceny. He pointed out that shootings, considered one of the two key indicators of major crimes with murder being the other, decreased over the period by 38 per cent.
“The data highlights 273 shooting incidents for the first three months of 2011, compared to 442 for the corresponding period in 2010,” he said.
Senator Nelson disclosed that police divisions in the Corporate Area showed noticeable declines in murder rates over the three-month period. The St. Andrew North police division led the way with a significant reduction in the murder rate of 78 per cent, while the Andrew South division recorded a 58 per cent decline. Homicides fell by 60 per cent in the Kingston Western division and by 50 percent in Kingston Eastern.
Turning to St. Catherine, the Minister noted that, even in the face of two major criminal incidents since the start of the year, these divisions recorded lower murder figures.
He pointed out that St. Catherine is one of the areas that the police have been paying special attention to, because of the intensity of intra and inter-gang activities resulting in shootings and murders. But, St. Catherine North division recorded a 31 per cent decrease in murders, while St. Catherine South showed a 35 per cent decrease.
He said that the trend also continued in some of the “hotbed” communities in rural police divisions.
“In St. James, for example, which up to a few months ago was a cause of major headaches for the security forces, St. James has seen a 50 per cent decline in murders for the 2011 period,” he revealed. He also observed that the murder figure dropped by 55 per cent in Clarendon and by 32 per cent in Westmoreland.
Mr. Nelson attributed the success to significant support initiatives from his Ministry, as well as increased operational support from both the JCF and the JDF. He said that the Government fully endorses and supports the thrust of the JCF, with strong JDF support.
The JCF attributed the reduction mainly to its increased drive to tackle criminal gangs, as well as co-ordinated operational activities and increased deployment of personnel on the ground.
Deputy Commissioner in charge of Operations, Glenmore Hinds, said the JCF’s murder reduction strategy guided its assault on murders and major crimes.
The JDF’s Colonel Rocky Meade said that with support of mechanisms such as increased mobility, reopening of a more secure armoury, improvements to the working environment of police personnel, additional anti-crime bills and community policing strategies, the security forces will be able to further reduce the level of crime.
By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter