Wed | Jul 24, 2019

Scott-Mottley: Don't blame us if murders increase in St James

Published:Friday | December 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Donna Scott-Mottley, opposition spokesperson on justice.
Peter Bunting, former national security minister.

Donna Scott-Mottley, opposition spokesperson on justice, says that the People's National Party (PNP) will not accept any blame if murders increase in St James, noting that the Government has the power to ensure that sufficient members of the security forces are deployed in the parish to maintain law and order.

"If murder goes up in St James, the Government has to take responsibility because it would mean that their crime-fighting strategies have failed," Scott-Mottley, who is also an attorney-at-law, said at a PNP press conference at the party's St Andrew headquarters yesterday.

She said that the Jamaica Constabulary Force Act gives the police the right to cordon, search, detain, curfew, and set up roadblocks.

"When we vote against the state of emergency, we are saying, 'Montego Bay, I know you don't want 4,000 young people to be scraped up and put in jail'. That is the only element that has been removed," she reasoned.

In Gordon House on Tuesday, the parliamentary Opposition voted against an extension of states of emergency in St James, St Catherine north, and sections of Kingston.




Former national security minister Peter Bunting told journalists that following the Tivoli operations in May 2010 to arrest then drug lord Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, murders over a five-year period up to 2015 averaged 1,100 (plus or minus 10 per cent) per annum.

"It was since 2016 that the number of murders broke out of that band and spiked again to 1,600. Now, this year, 2018, even with three states of emergency and two ZOSOs (zones of special operations), we will end the year at about 1,300 murders."

This, Bunting noted, would exceed the annual numbers for 2010-2015 when there were no states of emergency.

Highlighting reduction in murders in selected parishes, Bunting said that there was a dramatic plunge of 70 per cent in the number of persons killed in St James. In St Catherine north, where a state of emergency was declared in March this year, there was a 26.6 per cent decline in murders. In Kingston central, where there is no state of emergency, there is a 44 per cent fall in murders, while in Manchester, there is a decline of 36 per cent. St Ann shows a 26 per cent reduction, while Clarendon has a 21 per cent decline and St Elizabeth, 19 per cent.

Bunting insisted that in several police divisions, where no states of public emergency were declared, there were double-digit declines in murder.