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Unsolved: Cold case overload

Published:Sunday | May 2, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Tyrone Reid, Sunday Gleaner Reporter

LOCAL police detectives are working with massive caseloads that defy international standards.

Head of the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), Assistant Commissioner of Police Les Green, was unable to give a precise number on how many cases each of the country's 816 detectives was carrying, but he knew it was much more than the established standard.

"I cannot give a total number, as we have over 500 murders this year, and most murder cases are either solved within a week or so, or after at least a year of investigation, especially when forensics and other technical data are required. This data is not recorded or known at this stage," Green said.

According to Green, an inter-nationally accepted caseload is 15 "live cases" per investigator, although this is for all major crime, and not just murders.

We have to prioritise

"For example, in the UK, a murder would be investigated by a team of 30 to 40 detectives and each team would only undertake about five or so murder cases a year," Green emphasised.

"We could never achieve this, so we have to prioritise the cases to those we can manage, and act on the information or leads available to us."

Based on Sunday Gleaner calculations, which included only the approximately 6,000 unsolved murders committed over the past six years, plus the no less than 537 persons killed at the end of April, if the number of cases were shared evenly, each detective would have almost eight murder cases on his plate.

In addition, the detectives would have several cases related to other major crimes.

"Only in Kingston and St Andrew do we have a dedicated shootings and murder investigation team, as all other murders are investigated by detectives across the CIB islandwide," Green explained.

According to Green, the JCF has no set standard for caseload per detective because "the resources could not match any set".

He said the leadership of the police force is pushing to increase the number of detectives by training and appointing a minimum of 200 each year, with a plan to have 15 per cent of the force being detectives by 2012.

"When we reach the 15 per cent, I believe that would be a good and reasonable level to achieve. Our training and selection programme cannot accommodate any shorter (time frame), as the quality and experience of the new detectives must be retained," Green said.

The courses delivered under the force's new detective training programme range from two weeks to a few months.

Detective Training Programmes Offered by the JCF

Level 1

Core Skills Investigator Course - Two weeks

Level 2

The Detective Course - Four weeks

Level 3

The Commanders and Senior Investigators Course - A minimum of two weeks (the first of which was delivered last week).

Additionally, there are other related courses that vary from one week to a few months.