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St Thomas records 32 per cent decrease in murders

Published:Thursday | October 3, 2019 | 12:30 AMShanna Monteith/Gleaner Writer

The St Thomas police are crediting what they describe as excellent community policing for the 32 per cent decrease in murders in the parish.

According to a report from the police, at the end of September 2018, there was a total of 25 murders, and for the corresponding period this year, a tally of 17.

Speaking with The Gleaner, Acting Superintendent and Divisional Commander Howard Simmonds admitted that though the division has seen a 33 per cent increase in major crimes, many of the offences are carried out by people who do not live in St Thomas.

“The highest increases are in shooting, from 10 last year up to 27 to date, and acquisitory crimes, such as break-ins and robberies, which show an average increase of 30 per cent. We have observed that some of these crimes are perpetrated by persons who are not domiciled in St Thomas, such as some taxi operators, and some persons attending events in the parish,” he said.

Simmonds revealed that in addition to the 32 per cent decrease in murder, there is also an overall clear-up rate for murders of 59 per cent and a 33 per cent decrease in larceny.

Of measures employed by the local force to effect the decrease in various areas, he said, “We have been using operational measures to curtail these crimes, such as road policing activities, frequent snap raids, town sweeps and intelligence-led policing operations.

“We have been visiting violence producers and persons on curfew orders. We have also been using proactive policing by conducting walkthrough in communities which we identified as hotspots, where some of the serious crimes are committed.”

Simmonds added: “We have been conducting community meetings, school visits and visiting the churches as well as organising monthly church services.”

Meeting stakeholders

The acting superintendent also mentioned that the police body has been meeting with partners and stakeholders such as the Lay Magistrates’ Association, St Thomas Municipal Corporation, Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit and farmers.

According to him, “We attend a monthly inter-agency meeting facilitated by the Social Development Commission and we meet with our entertainment events promoters to treat with the provocative Noise Abatement Act. Many of these activities are made possible by the inclusion of the police trainee constables in the division since April 2019.

“This is an excellent programme implemented by the Police High Command where recruits are assigned to do actual policing as part of their training.”

Simmonds added: “St Thomas has many great citizens who are cooperative, and we encourage more community members to come on board by attending the community meetings and participate in the police youth clubs, neighbourhood watches and farmers’ association to keep crime at a tolerable level to prepare for the proposed developments that have been announced for St Thomas.

“We are also advising owners of registered taxi to monitor their vehicles and other employers to have proper background checks conducted on their employees.”