Fri | Oct 23, 2020

Rape stats spoil improved crime figures in western Ja

Published:Saturday | September 26, 2020 | 12:09 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor

Western Bureau:

Except for rape, which has seen troubling increases in Hanover and Trelawny, the latest serious crime statistics for western Jamaica, which had been wearing the dubious tag as the nation’s crime capital over recent years, appear quite encouraging.

Based on the statistics revealed in the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Serious Crime Report for the period January 1, 2020 to August 19, 2020, except for Hanover, the western parishes are all seeing reductions across the board in major crimes when matched with the comparative period in 2019. It should, however, be noted that Westmoreland, Hanover and St James spent most of the period in question under a tri-parish state of public emergency (SOE).

“These are encouraging figures across the board but we have to continue the fight...now is not the time to become complacent because we cannot allow the criminals to regroup,” said St James’ commanding officer, Superintendent Vernon Ellis.

In terms of murders across the region for the period under review, St. James saw the biggest drop, falling from 105 in 2019 to 85 this year. Westmoreland was the next best, falling from 63 to 50. Trelawny declined from 20 to 16 and Hanover from 24 to 22.

In terms of shootings, Trelawny has emerged with the best results, falling from 18 to nine. St James and Westmoreland experienced marginal declines, falling from 97 to 96, and 63 to 61, respectively. However, Hanover saw an increase, moving up from 16 to 24.

“I don’t want to sound callous but I am not really impressed with a reduction of two and three in shootings and murders, I prefer to hear about gunmen being killed and firearms being recovered,” a St James businessman, who asked not to be identified, told The Gleaner. “We will never get the peace we desire until these gunmen and illegal guns are no longer on our streets.”

While robberies and break-ins have seen between marginal and substantial reductions across the west, some business interests are somewhat wary of the numbers, saying they don’t inspire more than token confidence.

The robbery figures see St James trending down from 54 to 40, Trelawny down from 14 to eight and Westmoreland from 75 to 51. Hanover had a slight increase from six to seven. As it relates to break-ins, St James fell from 57 to 30, Trelawny from 50 to 24 and Westmoreland from 54 to 44. Hanover was again the odd parish out, showing an increase from 17 to 19.

It should be noted that St James, which started the year with several multimillion-dollar robberies, got a major breakthrough with the smashing of a robbery syndicate, which was led by Melvin Ottey. Ottey was killed in an alleged confrontation with the police following a string of major robberies against Chinese business operators.

“We are not going to say that there will be no more robberies but I believe that the recent killing of men like Glenroy ‘Tall Man’ Hodges, who was featured in several of the robberies captured by CCTV, should help in our bid to bring down the numbers,” said Ellis.

The worrying rape statistics see Hanover and Trelawny recording increased numbers over 2019. The Hanover figures jumped from 12 to 17 while Trelawny saw an increase from 10 to 12. Westmoreland saw a decline from 63 to 61 while St James dropped from 54 to 40.

Over the past decade, the worrisome state of crime in the west has been one of the primary concerns of the Government, business stakeholders, and investors as this region is the hub of the nation’s tourism and business process outsourcing sectors, which are two of the main drivers of the local economy.