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389 gangs identified in Jamaica, 250 active

Published:Wednesday | May 20, 2020 | 11:02 AM
Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang - File photo

Romario Scott, Gleaner Writer

At the end of 2019, some 389 gangs were identified as operating in Jamaica, Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang, told Parliament on Tuesday.

Chang, who was tabling the report of the Joint Select Committee that reviewed the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act of 2014, commonly called anti-gang legislation, indicated that this represents an increase of eight gangs when compared to the 381 identified in 2018.
“Based on the latest assessment carried out by the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), at the end of 2019, there were 389 criminal gangs operating in Jamaica. Of the 389 criminal gangs, 250 or 64 per cent were deemed to be active while the remaining 139 or 36 per cent were classified as dormant.
“Three hundred and twenty-three or 83 per cent of the total criminal gangs in operation were classified as 'first generation’ gangs - by virtue of their loose and unsophisticated leadership. These gangs are also identified by the fact that their main focus was on turf protection and control for financial gains,” Chang said. 
The other 66 gangs or 17 per cent were classified as 'second generation' gangs. 
Such gangs, the security minister explained, exhibited more centralised leadership and focused primarily on organised crime. 
“According to the NIB, there were no 'third generation' gangs in operation in Jamaica. These are gangs with broad reach, often across international borders,” Chang said. 
Chang informed Parliament that the Corporate Area continues to account for the largest proportion of gangs and he underscored that they enjoyed the strong backing of some communities. 
“In many communities across the island, gang members enjoy strong community support which makes it difficult to isolate them. Even so, over the last three years, there has been a significant increase in the number of gang members identified, apprehended, and prosecuted,” Chang said.
In giving a breakdown, it was revealed that Police Area 4, which comprises the Kingston Western, Kingston Central, Kingston Eastern, St Andrew Central, and St Andrew South Police Divisions, accounted for 249 or 64 per cent of the total number of known gangs across Jamaica.
At the divisional level, the minister said, “78 of the gangs identified across the island or 20.1 per cent, were resident within the St Andrew South Police Division. This was followed by the Kingston Central, and Kingston Western Police Divisions with 13.1 per cent and 12.3 per cent respectively.”
As it relates to Police Area 5, which comprises St Catherine North, St Catherine South, St Andrew North, and St Thomas, it accounts for the second-highest number of gangs in the country, with 57 or 14.7 per cent.

This is followed by Police Area 1 (St James, Westmoreland, Hanover, and Trelawny) with 51 gangs or 13.1 per cent.

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