JAMAICA | Opposition alarmed at spike in murders, suppression of crime statistics

JAMAICA | Opposition alarmed at spike in murders, suppression of crime statistics

KINGSTON, Jamaica, June 28, 2021: Shadow Minister of National Security, Senator Peter Bunting  says he is alarmed at the current spike in murders, while at the same time, there is a concerted effort to suppress the island’s crime statistics.

In a statement the Opposition Senator said there have been 113 murders (at a rate of 5.4 murders per day) in just the last three weeks, according to the JCF’s Periodic Crime Statistics Review for June 26, 2021.

He said murders have increased by 5.5% year-to-date, when compared with 2020, with a number of police divisions having increases in the order of 50%. 

Senator Bunting remarked “What is particularly disappointing is that only a few weeks ago I acknowledged in the Senate that the JCF was seeing better results in violent crime this year relative to last year, and without the States of Emergency. 

At the time, murders were down 2% year to date.  Has someone dropped the ball to have such a sharp and sudden deterioration?”  The Minister needs to explain what has precipitated this spike and outline the measures being taken to mitigate the spike.”  St. James has accounted for only 5 of the 113 murders in the last three weeks, so the Norwood ZOSO cannot be the mitigating measure.

The Opposition is concerned that critical data necessary for stakeholders to assess the crime situation continues to be withheld by the JCF.  For example, the breakout of the victims of murder amongst males, females, and children is no longer provided. Similarly, there is no data on sexual offences against children. 

These figures were previously provided on a weekly basis by the JCF for over a decade.  The Opposition finds this perplexing as Violence Against Women and Girls has been a recent topic of national discourse and media reports of these incidents suggest they are on the increase. 

Similarly, all categories of arrests are now reported as one figure instead of separating: Arrests with evidence under the Firearms Act; Arrests with evidence under the Dangerous Drugs Act; or arrests under the DRMA. 

Stakeholders deserve to know whether the reported increase in arrests corresponds to more violent criminals being taken off the streets for gun offences, or whether delinquent party goers are arrested for breaking curfew.

Senator Bunting shared, “We have been calling for greater transparency from the Ministry of Security and the JCF, and in particular, to return to the well-established practice of issuing detailed crime data to the key stakeholders.

Suppressing statistics on how many women and children are affected by violent crime, and on the categories of arrests, represent a deliberate and clumsy attempt to obfuscate the data.”

The Minister and the Commissioner must understand that suppressing crime statistics will not lessen public fear.  It is only by fixing crime through a professional and transparent JCF that public confidence will be restored. 

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