In 2009, Jamaica had the third highest homicide rate in the world, at 63/100,000. The rate fell markedly after the Tivoli operation, to just over 40/100,000. In 2012 there was a 4% reduction in murders relative to 2011 and for the first half of 2013 there was a 6% reduction in murders relative to the first half of 2012. However, during the summer, the level of violence started rising again and is threatening the gains which have been made over the last three years.
I will now update this Honourable House on the policies and programmes that are being instituted to ensure that this is only a temporary setback and does not jeopardize the long-term downward crime trend.
There was an increase in the number of murders during the months of July and August 2013. For the period June 30 to Aug 31st this year there were 251 murders at an average of 4.0 murders per day, which represents an increase in the average daily rate, when compared with the first half of the year (up to June 29th) when the average daily murder rate was 2.9. It also represents an increase on the 197 murders that occurred in the corresponding two-month period in 2012. The Police Divisions where the highest number of murders occurred are: St. James (35), St. Catherine North (29), Clarendon (25), Westmoreland (21), St, Andrew South (18), St. Catherine South (17), and Kingston West (15).
This spike in murders is believed to be due to a number of reasons:
1. Analysis of the murder attribution statistics show that the largest increase in murders during the period falls within the category “murders in the course of robbery”. There were 90 murders in this category for the spike period in 2013 versus 41 in 2012. This may suggest that more hardened gunmen/gang members are diversifying into robbery as other sources of illicit income such as extortion or lottery scamming are squeezed. These cold-hearted criminals do not hesitate to murder their victims even when it is not provoked.
2. A general increase in the number of inter and intra gang conflicts.
The National Intelligence Bureau is monitoring approximately fifty of these situations currently. The contributing factors to these increased conflicts include:
a. A predicted increase in the trafficking of drugs and guns due to a so called “balloon effect” which I alerted this house to, in my sectoral presentation earlier this year. That is, as the war on drugs heats up in Central America, more cocaine traffic is starting to return to the historical Caribbean routes. Cocaine seizures by the JCF, which can be used as one indicator of total cocaine traffic, have more than doubled year-to-date (Jan- Jul) with 354 Kg seized as against 152 Kg last year. There has also been an increase in marijuana interdictions. Similarly the police have seized 479 guns year-to-date (Jan-Aug) compared to 397 for the similar period last year. The increased trafficking is likely fueling increased gang activity…READ MORE