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Police up offensive against extortionists

Saturday, January 25, 2014 | 11:17 AM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica -- The police will this weekend be giving members of the public a heads up on the tactics used by extortionists even as they vow to make more arrests.

Speaking at a Jamaica House Post Cabinet Press Briefing on Thursday Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington said the police have been working its anti-extortion strategy and have been deploying operatives under cover to detect the crime and arrest the perpetrators because victims are always fearful to report.

“In fact, those who extort often create conditions of fear so that when they go and make these extortion demands people will pay without any intention of making reports to the police. We have found a way to get around that which we won’t discuss in details here,” the Police Chief told journalists.

“We intend to make more (arrests) and this very weekend we are coming out with a publication to the general public advising about the extortion approaches, the forms in which they come and all the opportunities for it to be reported to us in confidence without any lead back to the source,” he said.

The Police Commissioner was responding to queries about a recent report which indicated that thugs in the Rockfort community of East Kingston had been charging residents rent to live in their own homes.

“In terms of the Rockfort community, extortion is not new to that community, it has been around for a long time, it has been the source of violence there but this past week we put out a public release advising the public as to the aggressiveness of the extortionists in that community and that they are actually turning on householders,” Commissioner Ellington said.

He however said that release of information “doesn’t mean the problem is exploding all over the country”.

“We have managed to contain it as we have been able to curtail criminal gang activities in many parts of the country,” he said.

Thursday National Security Minister Peter Bunting addressing statements from the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party indicating that extortion is on the rise said the claims were baseless.

“I know we are in an adversarial political environment but let us not use the issue of crime and violence as one which we try and use to panic the public and raise their anxiety unnecessarily. There was no evidence before the police to suggest that we have a spiralling extortion problem,” Bunting said.

“Of course we have a problem of extortion and we have had for a long time but the suggestion that it was spiralling out of control, my response was saying that after consultation with the commissioner they had no evidence to support that. If the Opposition Spokesman has evidence let him bring it forward and share it with the police,” he added.

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