Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
Murders and other categories of serious crimes have declined for a fourth straight year, something private sector and civil society leaders have hailed as a major development.
Statistics compiled by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) show that between January 1 and December 29, there were 1,083 reported homicides this year, a four per cent decline or 42 less than the 1,125 recorded for the corresponding period last year.
At the same time in 2010, there were 1,439 reported murders and 1,673 in 2009.
"This is a positive development. The trends are going in the correct direction and we are encouraged," said president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Christopher Zacca, when informed of the statistics.
Civil society advocate Carol Narcisse said the decline is "of significance to all Jamaicans".
"Any decrease in violence, death and destruction is always welcome," Narcisse told The Gleaner yesterday.
The statistics, a copy of which was obtained by The Gleaner, show that there were continued reductions in shootings, robberies and break-ins. Rape and larceny were the only two categories that saw an increase.
According to the data, there were 1,218 reported cases of shootings up to last Saturday, 121 or nine per cent less than the 1,339 recorded for the corresponding period last year. There were 1,512 reported cases of shootings for the corresponding period in 2010 and 1,660 in 2009.
The statistics also show that there were 2,679 reported robberies over the same period this year, 390 or 13 per cent less than the 3,069 recorded over the corresponding period last year. There were 2,839 reported robberies over the same period in 2010 and 3,011 in 2009.
There were 833 reported rapes this year, 19 more than were recorded over the corresponding period last year. There were 713 reported cases of rape in 2010 and 704 in 2009.
Zacca and Narcisse agreed that the challenge for Jamaican law-enforcement officials is to ensure that the declining trends continue.
"We have to redouble our efforts and the Government has to commit the requisite resources to ensure that they continue," Narcisse said.
"There is a lot to be done," Zacca insisted.