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Security Ministry Takes Steps to Address Increase in Murders

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The Ministry of National Security is actively taking steps to address the increase in the homicide rates for the period July and August, 2013.

These include accelerating the passage of relevant legislation, enhancing the mobility and technical capability of the force, increasing police checkpoints, among other measures.

In a report in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, September 10, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting informed for the period June 30 to August 31, there were 251 murders, at an average of 4.0 murders per day, This, he said, represents an increase in the average daily rate, when compared with the first half of the year (up to June 29) when the average daily murder rate was 2.9.  

“It also represents an increase on the 197 murders that occurred in the corresponding two-month period in 2012,” Minister Bunting stated.

The police divisions with the highest number of murders are: St. James (35), St. Catherine North (29); Clarendon (25); Westmoreland (21); St. Andrew South (18); St. Catherine South (17); and Kingston West (15).

Mr. Bunting noted that to address the increase in the murder rate, the Government will accelerate the passage through Parliament of the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Organised Criminal Organizations) Bill, more commonly referred to as the ‘Anti-Gang’ Bill.

“This will be an important weapon in the prosecution of gang members, who, under the protection of their criminal brands have intimidated, terrorized and murdered hundreds of Jamaicans,” Mr. Bunting said.

He also informed that the Government will present shortly to Parliament, a Bill to amend the Maritime Drug Trafficking (Suppression) Act, to empower the government to waive jurisdiction over Jamaican nationals involved in drug trafficking outside of our territorial waters.

He noted that this amendment will allow international partners, with Jamaica’s permission, to prosecute Jamaican drug traffickers intercepted in international waters on Jamaican flagged vessels.

“Notwithstanding resource constraints, we are investing in the technological capability of the police through the upgrade of the Automated Palm and Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). This upgrade will enhance the forensic capabilities of law enforcement to make more positive “hits” in seeking to identify criminal suspects,” the Security Minister said.  

Other initiatives include : operationalization of Close Circuit Television (CCTV) in Montego Bay on September 5, 2013 and the planned roll out of CCTV facilities in Ocho Rios; and the upgrade of the Mobile Radio System currently used by the JCF.

Mr. Bunting further informed that orders have been placed for 70 motorcars, six mid-sized Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), 44 pickups, and thirteen 600cc motorbikes and two fifteen-seater buses.  

“Delivery will commence this week, and the balance scheduled over the next three months. Four mobile police posts are currently under construction and will be available for deployment in volatile communities by the end of month,” Mr. Bunting said.  

A nationally coordinated Vehicular Check Points and People Check Points will also be implemented on a 24-hour basis across all geographic divisions. Also, emphasis is being placed on the stopping and searching of suspect vehicles and people along major thoroughfares and built-up areas in an effort to deny armed criminal free movement.

Some of the reasons cited by Mr. Bunting for the increase in criminal activities include “murders in the course of robbery” where there were 90 murders in this category for the spike period in 2013 versus 41 in 2012.  

He also noted that there was a general increase in the number of inter and intra gang conflicts while adding that the National Intelligence Bureau is monitoring approximately 50 of these situations.

The Lottery scam also continues to fuel murders by gangs. For example, during the last week alone, there have been four murders related to the scam.

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