Bloody June

2019 crime gains erased as murders go up by almost 50 per cent so far this month

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

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Almost 100 murders across the island in the first 22 days of this month have led to an erosion of much of the gains made in the crime fight since the start of this year.

At the beginning of this month the police reported that 548 murders had been committed across the island, a seven per cent decline from the 590 committed in the corresponding period last year.

But yesterday, preliminary police figures showed that with an average of 4.3 homicides each day for the month, up to last Saturday, the murder total had jumped to 647. This was less than one per cent below the 653 murders committed for the corresponding period last year.

With the current trend, June is poised to equal, or surpass, March as the bloodiest month so far this year.

March recorded 134 murders, while May runs a close second, with 105. Both figures were higher than those recorded for the respective months in 2018.

In January, murders were down 28 per cent. The figure was flat in February, and down 17 per cent in April.

March bucked the trend when the murder total reached 19 per cent above last year, while May recorded a marginal increase when compared to 2018. But June is already 46 per cent above the 65 murders committed over the corresponding period in 2018.

Most other serious crimes have recorded declines so far this year, with the exception being shootings, which is up 8.4 per cent. Rape is down 14.2 per cent, while aggravated assault is down four per cent.

The latest jump in murders has prompted Opposition spokesman on national security Fitz Jackson to declare that there is an urgent need for key stakeholders to come together to address the continuous upsurge in crime across the country.

According to Jackson, the People's National Party (PNP) has been awaiting such a meeting since it was promised as a follow-up to the Vale Royal Talks in January.

Jackson argued that the high-level gathering needs to be convened in the next few days because innocent people are being slaughtered daily, despite the presence of states of emergency (SOEs) in some sections of the island.

He said stakeholders in peace management, the Church, the business sector, and community representatives have been waiting for some time for Prime Minister Andrew Holness to initiate the meeting to discuss the crime situation, but to no avail.

“An initial agreement to hold such a forum has [been] reneged upon by the Government and the stonewalling continues shamelessly,” charged Jackson.

“As far as the PNP is concerned, the time for action is now. The numbers of murders and shootings keep rising and the incidents have become more bizarre, brazen and brutal, and spreading to areas hitherto peaceful and safe. The crime situation is close to overrunning some communities and townships.

He added that the high-level talks should be aired publicly to give the opportunity for wider participation from Jamaicans at home and abroad.

“The platitudes and grandiose pronouncements of blind obedience to SOEs as the solution to our security challenges continue to prove futile.

“The Opposition, along with other major stakeholders, continue to call on the Government to provide the nation with a crime plan. It is clear that we cannot depend on this Government to act in the best interest of the Jamaican people,” said Jackson.

In the meantime, with 24 children murdered across the island since the start of the year, up from 22 last year, the PNP Women's Movement has called for a concentrated effort by the Government to protect the nation's children, especially when outside the normal chain of supervision.

The women's movement cited media reports which suggest that nearly 100 children have been raped across the island, and urged that with the summer holidays approaching, everyone must be on high alert to ensure their protection.

Jennifer Edwards, president of the PNP Women's Movement said, “The reports of children being raped or murdered underscore the level of savagery that has overtaken the nation. It also speaks to a failure on the part of 'the village' to provide protection and guardianship for our children, especially as they travel to and from school, or engage in ordinary community activities.”

Edwards has also called on the Government to increase police patrols in communities where children are being attacked, especially during the period of dismissal.

“We are also calling on all child welfare and security agencies, as well as non-government organisations that focus on children, to immediately put their energies into educating families and communities on critical protection measures for the children in an atmosphere of rising brutality,” added Edwards.


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