Even by its recent standards Jamaica’s current violent crime rate is scary.
Since the start of 2017 there has been over 660 murders in Jamaica. So far in June alone there has been roughly 84-90 murders (Update: 141 murders as at 27 June) . This murder spree in a nation with a population of just 2.7 million people.
Today it is common to come across reports in Jamaican media of;
- Multiple murders from one crime scene.
- Children being killed by adults or school mates.
- Families in one home being wiped out by guns and arson.
- Pensioners (as old as 97) being attacked in their own home and sometimes murdered.
- Mob killings in the name of jungle justice.
- Killing of those living rough with mental health issues.
- Jamaicans returning permanently from overseas violently targeted by criminals.
Just last Wednesday & Thursday there were 20 shootings 8 of which were fatal including 2 children. In one of those incidents that had multiple fatalities, the alleged shooter was a 14 year old boy.
(There’s been at least 45 multiple shootings in 2017.)
For a small country Jamaica’s murder rate has been for decades a disgrace. In 2011 there were 1117 murders,
- 2012 (1085 murders),
- 2013 (1192),
- 2014 (1005),
- 2015 (1200) and
- 2016 (1350).
Given the current murder rate for 2017, Jamaica could sadly be on course to get close to the horrendous figure in 2005 when there were 1674 murders.
One senior police official told parliament last week that there is a need to bring the current murder rate down to 30 a month. His comments may seem laughable but it is the reality of what Jamaicans are facing today.
The current Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has suggested that the media should not popularise these murders as it gives Jamaica a bad image and could affect the tourist industry. But Bartlett is so wrong as the media would never have the space or time to report on even a tenth of the violent crimes (incl. sexual assaults & robberies) that occurs in Jamaica.
Indeed, I do find it strange that Jamaica’s murder carnage is not covered more widely by the international media. We know the international media would report such violent incidents in Jamaica if a member of the LGBT community or a tourist was attacked.
If Jamaica’s murder wave was covered in the international media then maybe local politicians, security services and wider society would be more proactive in tackling violent crime effectively.
The causes of the high violent crime rate are many. Causes include short tempers, gang warfares, money, illegal drugs trade, materialism, relationships, envy, grudges and the profilerations of (& easy access to) illegal firearms.
We can not ignore the political violence of previous decades has also had an impact on certain violent crime activities today.
In the past 10 years it is frightening to see how many personal friends and acquaintances of mine that have been murdered. It affects your mindset deeply makes you wonder – why?
Jamaica’s security services & governments were caught napping for decades as thousands of guns were illegal imported from Haiti via Jamaica’s southern coast.
But for me Jamaica has simply lost the respect and value for human life. People get into violent skirmishes over the slightest issue.
Children or elderly being murdered is so common that any public outrage last for 48 hours before the news cycle moves on to next such report.
I wish there is a quick solution to stem the crime surge. Jamaica officially is not at war but the data paints a tragic picture.
The current Jamaica Labour Party government and the opposition People’s National Party should both swallow their political pride and ego and agree to take a bi-partisan approach to crime reduction and community safety for even 1 term.
It is embarrassing to see National Security Ministers and the official opposition trying to score political points over which government had a better record reducing the number of murders. Even though both had over 1000 murders annually under their watch.
The current Jamaican government is planning to bring in measures under a new Anti-Crime Bill which include curfews aka as special crime zones.
Jamaica needs sustained help from the international community. The security forces alone cannot stem this crime surge. Society needs a reset on how one’s life should be treasured and respected.
It is critical for Jamaica to seek serious international assistance to bring in the technology and expertise personnel to reduce crime, without affecting the human rights of law abiding citizens..
- More than ever Jamaica needs sophisticated and integrated CCTV systems which includes Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) supported by command centres. This system is needed across the island to assist in the solving and prevention of violent crime. The techno and expertise is there across the globe.
- Jamaica needs help on modern good practice initiatives for the effective rehabilitation of offenders. E.g Why Scandinavian Prisons Are Superior
- There is a need for international assistance to help forensic experts to speed up their investigations as too many violent crimes go unsolved or just not investigated.
- Education and Community Development has to play a more vital role at empowering the youths into career paths away from crime.
On a whole it is the Jamaican society that has to help each other to cut out this carnage in the medium to long term.
Update 15 December:
1522 murders so far in Jamaica during 2017.
9937 killed between 2010 and 2017.