Tue | Apr 7, 2020

More than half the murders in 2020 still unsolved

Published:Thursday | February 20, 2020 | 12:09 AMDanae Hyman/Staff Reporter

Despite the imposition of states of emergency (SOEs) in at least eight police divisions across the island, more than half of the 167 murders committed since the start of the year have gone unsolved.

Up to February 15, only 57 cases, or 31 per cent, of murders committed have been cleared up. According to the statistics compiled by the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the clear-up rate for killing is at a three-year low.

A case is considered cleared-up when a suspect has been arrested and charged.

In 2019, of the 157 cases of murder, 63, or 40 per cent, were cleared up. Eighty-one, or 39 per cent, of the 206 murders recorded in 2018 were cleared up.

In the last five years, statistics show that there have been a total of 826 reported murders over the first seven weeks each year, but only 342, or 41 per cent, have been cleared up.

A senior crime investigator who asked not to be named said the low clear-up rate could be attributed to witnesses not coming forward to help with the conviction.

“The witnesses aren’t coming forward to give evidence, and this is because witnesses sometimes don’t trust the system. Another reason for this is because of some investigators’ inability to dig far enough to find the truth and just limit themselves to the surface,” the officer said.

In the meantime, although shootings declined by 11.4 per cent, the clear-up rate is at a five-year low.

According to the statistics, there were 147 cases of shooting up to February 15 this year, but arrests have been made or charges laid in 34, or 23 per cent, of the cases.

Last year, 38 per cent of the 166 shootings were cleared up, a marginal uptick by three percentage points over 2018. The shooting clear-up rate was 43 per cent in 2017.

Based on the crime review, St Andrew North has recorded the most murders (18) of any police division, more than three times the five tallied in the first 46 days of last year.

Kingston Eastern is the only police division under SOEs that has seen an increase in murders. The security crackdown took effect on January 26.

Portland has had no killings this year.