Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Gov't's failure - University professor says crime out of control because Gov't didn't normalise hot spots

Published:Monday | December 18, 2017 | 12:00 AMJason Cross

University professor Anthony Clayton has bemoaned the sharp rise in Jamaica's murder rate this year, charging that the spike in killings in 2017 was indicative of the failure of the Government to normalise hot spot communities as was done after the 2010 incursion in Tivoli Gardens.

Murders have surged past 1,500 since the start of the year, the highest since the record murder rate in 2009 when 1,680 people were killed.

As at December 12 this year, 1,521 people were murdered.

"The only thing that ever really brought down our rate (after 2009) was the normalisation of Tivoli in 2010. After that happened, the bad guys were demoralised. The gangs were disrupted and the homicide rate fell by 40 per cent. What we should have done is to go on and normalise every other high-crime community in the country, but we let that opportunity slip away. I knew that we would only have a couple of years before the homicide rate started to come back up again. That is sadly what happened, and now we are exactly where we started," Clayton lamented.

Because of international pressure, Clayton says the Government is now pressed and has no choice but to approach the crime situation in 2018 and beyond with a high level of seriousness.

"For me, the only thing to be optimistic about is that the Government of Jamaica is taking crime more seriously than ever before. That is because it is now a conditionality of all the support that we get from our international development partners like the IMF (International Monetary Fund).

"Every single one of them now is saying to the Government, 'if you can't deal with organised crime and corruption, then what is the point of supporting you, because your economy cannot grow until you deal with these cancers.' It is the single biggest impediment to our development. We may get a bit of growth here and there, but we will never get the sustained growth we need if we fail to deal with organised crime. The IMF and the other partners are saying we must deal with this before we move on," he stressed.

Security consultant Robert Finzi-Smith took sides with Clayton, but also pinpointed that the different types of murders and the motives should be more precisely categorised so that the authorities can better target the factors of crime.

"He may be correct in terms of moving in to suppress crime in certain areas, and to make one sweep. Our problem has been, and will continue to be, that we don't classify what causes the murders. You have to look at what causes the killings and then determine what the most prevalent problem is. If we lump it all together as just killings, you will lose your mind," Finzi-Smith added.


Murder tally since 2009



Year Number of murders


2009 1,680

2010 1,428

2011 1,125

2012 1,097

2013 1,200

2014 1,005

2015 1,192

2016 1,350