After nearly two years of dramatic decline from record levels, murders and shootings have begun showing marginal increases.
Statistics compiled by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) show that up to last weekend, there were 742 reported murders this year, a two per cent increase when compared with the corresponding period last year.
The data, a copy of which was obtained by The Gleaner, show that between January 1 and August 24, there were 782 reported shooting incidents, a four per cent increase when compared with the corres-ponding period last year.
Despite this, however, JCF statistics point out that rapes are down 18 per cent and break-ins have dipped by 25 per cent, while robberies declined by one per cent.
Assistant Commissioner Devon Watkis, who heads the Criminal Investigation Branch, underscored that, overall, major crimes are down 25 per cent, but said the spike in murders stems from gang activities "in specific areas" and the increasing number of domestic disputes that turn deadly.
CONTINUING TO STRATEGISE
However, Watkis sought to assure Jamaicans that the police "continue to strategise and deploy more personnel in hot spots and focus areas".
He said these measures have, so far, resulted in a significant jump in the number of illegal weapons taken from criminals.
Since the start of the year, the police have seized 463 firearms and more than 5,000 assorted rounds of ammunition.
Yesterday, the Kingston Central police seized a small cache of firearms in downtown Kingston. The police say five weapons, including an AK-47 rifle and a shotgun, along with 20 rounds of ammunition, were found at premises near Luke Lane and North Street.
This find prompted a warning from head of the division, Superintendent Steve McGregor, that the division will not become a safe haven for criminals fleeing from neighbouring communities.
McGregor's warning was directed primarily at criminals based in sections of west Kingston, which has seen a flare-up of violence in recent weeks.