Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
National Security Minister Peter Bunting has revealed that the St James Police Division has the highest homicide rate per capita in Jamaica, making the western parish the most murderous part of the island.
"St James currently is really the most serious division in terms of violent crimes ... murder and shooting," said Bunting, while touring communities affected by gun violence in the parish yesterday.
"On a per capita basis, St James has more than twice the murder rate of any other parish ... it is much worse than Kingston and St Andrew and St Catherine."
The entire west seems to be on an ominous path as, according to the national security minister, in terms of criminal volatility, St James, Westmoreland and Hanover are leading the pack, making the region the epicentre of criminal violence.
Bunting said police intelligence has indicated that the majority of the murders in St James are related to the operation of the lottery scam. He also noted that because of the war being waged against scamming by the Lottery Scam Task Force, scammers are migrating to deep rural communities or neighbouring parishes.
"The number two and three divisions are now Westmoreland and Hanover but most of these murders take place along the border of St James. It's really a spillover from the St James activity," noted Bunting. "In more than 50 per cent of these cases, it can be traced back to lottery-scam activities in one way or the other."
However, the national security minister, who was accompanied on the tour by Police Commissioner Owen Ellington and other high-ranking personnel from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, expressed much confident that the police's anti-crime strategies would eventually lead to a reduction in crime in the west.
More personnel deployed
The minister said an additional 125 Mobile Reserve and Jamaica Defence Force personnel have been deployed to St James while the social-intervention organisation, the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), has been expanded across the parish.
"One of the tasks I have given the CSJP management unit is that they have to go beyond the traditional intervention," stated Bunting.
In looking to the immediate future, the minister revealed that the machinery was now in place to amend the law to allow remote video evidence.
He also said new legislation was coming in regard to the Proceeds of Crime Act.
"Within two to three months, the police's ability to bring a broader range of charges will be improved," said Bunting.