Clarendon, St Andrew South lead 2020 crime figures

Clarendon, St Andrew South lead 2020 crime figures

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

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TWO of the island's most problematic police divisions last year — St Andrew South and Clarendon — have started the new year in the same vein, despite states of emergency (SOE) being in place.

While official final figures for last year have not yet been released, with two days to go in 2019 St Andrew South had recorded 166 murders to make it the bloodiest police division in the island.

Clarendon was not far behind with 117 murders, putting it third on the list with only St James (152) separating it from St Andrew South.

On July 7, 2019 Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared an SOE in St Andrew South as he argued that the division — which covers more than 20 gritty inner-city communities — was experiencing a high level of major crimes which endangered public safety.

That SOE has remained in place since then and is now slated to end on February 4, unless the Government can convince the Opposition to grant a further extension.

But even with the SOE in place, seven people have been murdered in the division since the start of this year. This is four more than the three people killed in the division in the first 11 days of last year. Five people are also nursing gunshot wounds from shooting incidents in the division, up from four in the corresponding period last year.

In Clarendon the SOE was declared on September 5 last year. At that time the division had recorded the second-highest number of murders at 100.

The SOE has remained in place since then and is slated to end on February 18, unless it is extended.

But the island's first double murder for 2020 in Bird Hill, near May Pen, in which 41-year-old Craig Smith and 61-year-old Bonito Williams were killed, signalled that despite the SOE the criminals were still active in the central Jamaica parish.

In the first 11 days of this year the parish recorded 11 murders, a stark contrast to the start of last year when there were no murders over the same period.

Islandwide the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Serious and Violent Crimes Review, published on Sunday, showed 34 murders in the first 11 days of this year, a slight uptick from the 33 recorded over the same period last year.

But this is well below the 57 murders recorded in the first 11 days of 2018 and the 41 in the corresponding period in 2017.

Three were no murders in six of the 19 police divisions in the first 11 days of the year. The six murder-free divisions included the often-volatile Kingston Western and the usually peaceful Portland divisions.

The other divisions where SOEs are in place all recorded murders up to January 11. These are St Catherine North and South (2), St James (1), Westmoreland (3) and Hanover (1).

With 36 cases of shooting recorded so far this year the police noted that this is one fewer than the 37 recorded up to January 11 last year.

The number of rape cases has fallen dramatically, with nine reported cases so far this year compared to 21 in the first 11 days of last year. This represents a 57 per cent decline.

There is a 69 per cent drop in the number of aggravated assault cases reported so far this year, with four incidents reported to the cops down from 13 last year.

The reported cases of robberies, break-ins and larceny are also down, with the police reporting 47 so far this year compared to 63 in the same period last year.

Official crime statistics for 2019 have not yet been released by the police but at December 28 Jamaica's murder total stood at 1,326, a three per cent increase over 2018.


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