Sun | Mar 7, 2021

High schoolers among Westmoreland rapists last year

Published:Saturday | January 23, 2021 | 12:05 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Superintendent Robert Gordon, the commanding officer for the Westmoreland police, says high school students contributed to 29 per cent of the increase in the number of sexual offences committed in the western parish last year.

According to Gordon, while the parish experienced reductions in six of the major crimes in 2020, to include murder, sexual offences emerged as the only grey area when compared to 2019. The division ended the COVID-19 pandemic-stricken year with 40 cases of sexual assault, which is 11 more than in 2019 – an increase of 29 per cent.

Speaking at last week’s monthly meeting of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation, Gordon said school-age boys and girls were among the 40 cases of rape committed across the parish last year, and that was despite the absence of face-to-face classes in the parish’s schools.

“We also observed that young girls under the age of 16 are actively engaged in sexual activities,” said Gordon, in highlighting the involvement of students.

Three of the 40 cases of sexual assault were allegedly committed against the victims between September 1 and December 31, last year. Gordon said when his team analysed the data, the revelation was startling based on the age of those who are involved in the criminal act.

“There was not a serial rapist within the parish, most of the victims know the accused. Actually, approximately 90 per cent of the victims knew who the accused person was,” said Gordon. “When you look at who the perpetrators were in a number of those cases, they were young boys, students who are also 16 and under who should be in school.”

“Because of COVID-19, it is easy to deduce that a number of these youths were left alone at home while their parents and guardians go to work when they got involved in sexual activities,” the parish commander said.

Increase in Incidents

Data from the Statistics and Information Management Unit and the Planning, Research and Development Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force showed that between January 1 and October 31 last year, Westmoreland had 37 cases of rape, which is an increase over the eight or 26.6 per cent in 2019.

Gordon further stated that their sexual assault analysis showed that a number of the cases started out as being transactional where one party did not live up to their end of the transaction, which resulted in a report being made to the police.

Despite the startling rape figures, Gordon said the reduction of murders by 13 per cent, shooting by 13 per cent, robbery by 29 per cent, assault by 44, break-ins by 34, and larceny by nine per cent, is a clear indication of the hard work being done by the police in the parish.

“These figures provide the division with an overall reduction of all major crimes of 17 per cent. The numbers are the best numbers in the last six years in the parish and I commend the men and women for the excellent work that they would have done as well as the support of the general citizens,” Gordon said.

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