ASSISTANT Commissioner of Police Elan Powell says domestic disputes are responsible for the spike in the number of murders recorded in St Mary, and called on residents to find a better way to solve conflicts.
Powell, who is in charge of the Area Two Police, said murders have increased by 300 per cent over last year, with 12 such incidents committed already this year, when compared to three for the corresponding period in 2012.
"The nominal figure might not be as alarming... (but) the percentage increase is something that we ought to be concerned about," ACP Powell said, as he addressed a recent town hall meeting at the Port Maria Civic Centre.
Superintendent Cedric Allen, who is in charge of the parish, said domestic disputes were responsible for eight of the 12 murders.
He pointed out that it was difficult for the police to know what is happening in people's homes, and as such, called on community groups to hold workshops and other forums to help persons to better solve their disputes.
He also urged residents to play an active role in dispute solving.
In the meantime, with figures showing that the majority of the crimes in the parish are committed by young men, ACP Powell said more programmes need to be implemented to help them.
"A programme has to be found to rescue our young people, and especially our young men, and the earlier the better," ACP Powell said.
Custos of St Mary, Jeffery McKitty, who also addressed the gathering, said he was alarmed at the number of incarcerated youth in the parish.
McKitty said approximately 70 per cent of persons facing criminal charges at the recent opening of the St Mary Circuit Court, ranged from ages 18 to 27.
Meanwhile, ACP Powell said both residents and the police will have to work together to combat crime in the parish.
"We are going to have to find some way to ensure that we can work together as neighbours to rid our communities of crimes. It is going to be incumbent on us to establish those citizens association, those neighbourhood watch groups, those police youth clubs," ACP Powell said.
While crime is said to be on a rise in the parish, ACP Powell said the St Mary police are now better equipped to fight crime as several stations which were without transportation, recently received new vehicles. These include the Retreat and Prospect police stations.
The police also used the opportunity to address the issue of praedial larceny in the parish.
Superintendent Allen, in responding to the concern of a resident, about the high level of praedial larceny in the parish, said farmers need to use the receipt book to better assist the police in catching criminals.
"People are resisting the use of the receipt book (and) that is a major problem," he said.
The use of the receipt book, he explained, would make it easier for the police to prosecute persons found with stolen items.