Manchester police say parish open for business
The Manchester Police are seeking to assure businesses and residents that crime is under control and that the parish is open for business.
"Manchester has seen migratory criminals coming in from time to time to the south side from Clarendon and Kingston and posing a problem. We have done some strategic moves in terms of deployment in that south side. It has been bearing fruits," Assistant Commissioner of Police, (ACP) Donovan Graham, said, noting that more rural areas such as Asia and Victoria are being affected.
"Manchester is open for business and the police stand ready to continue the excellent policing," said Graham who heads Police Area Three, in which Manchester falls.
But business representatives and civic leaders are not satisfied that enough is being done.
"Certainly, we have a crime problem, and what concerns us about this crime problem is what's the plan" said Sally Porteous, Custos of Manchester at a Gleaner Growth and Jobs Forum in the parish last week. "While I think we have a terrific superintendent of police here, who has a clear up rate of about 70 per cent, it doesn't make people feel secure in running their business, expanding their business, making future plans, to say nothing about the fear for the safety of their families, children."
The parish suffered from the global economic recession of 2008 which led to the closure of local alumina plants a key driver of the economic prosperity in central Jamaica for years.
With Chinese investors set to pump billions in upgrading the Alpart alumina plant in nearby St Elizabeth, the Manchester stakeholders say the crime situation, which Porteous claimed is expanding into rural communities, needs to be arrested.
Michael Gottshallk, manager, communications and public affairs at the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said his group has been helping to boost police resources as there is a need in the parish for more surveillance and patrols.
ON GOING ISSUE
"The CCTV has been an ongoing issue for several years now. The motor vehicle repairs is the newest one. Over the past, say, 12 months or so, we have been able to donate tyres, motor vehicle batteries, and we've been able to bring back into commission maybe a few units which we are pretty sure would have assisted them in their mobility."
"In terms of our level of satisfaction, we see where things could be a little better. Yes, we give them back the units to go on the road, but we still see the pockets of crime. We hope to see a lot more patrolling in the business district so that persons can be more comfortable and reassured."
He said CCTV coverage needs to be expanded into other towns like Christiana.
Business operators are not the only ones complaining about the need to get crime under control. Rohan Powell, acting deputy superintendent of the Manchester Fire Brigade, said his teams have to get police escort to responds to emergencies in some areas.
"There are some hostile places. If ever we get a call from Job Lane we must go therewith police. We have got our units damaged there when responding to incidents and firefighters receiving threats from irate citizens," he told The Gleaner.
The concerns of the stakeholders, however, are not supported by data which are pointing to crime trending down, except for break-ins.
For the period January 1-November 6, the parish recorded 33 murders, 12 less than for the similar period last year. Shooting, aggravated assault, rape and larceny are all down,
Break ins, however, are on the rise. Up to Sunday, there were 243 incidents for the year, 41 more than the figure for the similar period last year.