Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor
Despite a seven per cent reduction in major crimes last year, 1,087 persons were still murdered across the island , 763 cases of sexual assault of children were reported to the police while, 1,218 cases of shooting were reported.
For last year, the country recorded approximately 41 murders for every 100,000 persons living in the island, well above the 2016 target of 12 murders for every 100,000 by 2016 as was announced by Peter Bunting when he moved into the job of national security minister one year ago.
This year, the crime monster remains loose across the island and there is much more work to be done to tame him.
"The four per cent reduction in murders from 2011 (1,125) to 2012 (1,083) is not cause for celebration. Not yet," declared social activist and executive member of the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) Horace Levy.
"The reason is straightforward, it is the result of fewer murders in the last three weeks of 2012. Up to December 8, 2012 three murders each day was the average rate. There will be reason to celebrate if the reduction keeps up," added Levy in a recent letter to The Gleaner.
According to Levy, even if this four per cent decline in murders does consolidate over the next many weeks and months, it would be only an incremental improvement.
"The future we want will require something different from 'more boots on the ground'; (it will require) a truly fresh strategy, a really new paradigm," added Levy.
He argued that more emphasis has to be placed on crime prevention by saving the young people before they embark on a life of crime.
"The PMI and other groups have worked in four police divisions in Kingston and St Andrew which saw a 42 per cent reduction in murders from 2005 to 2009.
"What we did was to settle the disputes and help the young people to get involved in culture, sports and other productive ventures, and that helped to reduce the crime."
According to Levy, community policing has also helped to reduce crime and that must be given more emphasis in 2013.
Bunting has accepted that the crime figures are still too high and has indicated that the country should see other measures this year to further reduce crime.
Among the measures to come are legislative changes.
According to Bunting, despite long-standing constraints in the legislative machinery, the Government is far advanced in the preparation of a number of key pieces of legislation to assist in the fight against crime.
He listed that as, "DNA legislation, anti-gang legislation, amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act and the Advance Fee Fraud legislation.
"Work is also proceeding on a number of other policy initiatives including the merger of the ISCF (Island Special Constabulary Force) and the JCF (Jamica onstabulary Force) as well as combining the Forensic Lab and Legal Medicine Unit into a new Executive Agency," said Bunting.