Jamaica News: Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Government is well advanced in executing Plan Secure Jamaica, which will target a reduction in murders below the regional average of 16 per 100,000 (under 500) within the next decade.
“This will take time, and the development of unity of purpose within the Parliament, the whole of the Government and the entire country around crime management strategies and methods,” Mr. Holness said.
He was addressing the House of Representatives on Tuesday (January 8) on the expiration of the States of Public Emergency (SoEs).
Mr. Holness said he remains in touch with the Parliamentary Opposition on the matter which he noted was discussed with Opposition Leader, Dr. Peter Phillips, on January 2, 2019.
Additionally, the Prime Minister said a follow-up involving representatives of the Government and Opposition were held on January 7, 2019.
Consequent on Parliamentary votes taken on December 11, 2018, which saw the Opposition voting against extending the States of Public Emergency, the security measures in St. Catherine North expired on January 2, 2019, and sections of the Corporate Area on January 7, 2019.
The State of Public Emergency in St. James is scheduled to expire on January 31, 2019.
Prime Minister Holness informed that for 2018, 1,287 persons were murdered, 21.9 percent less than 2017 and 4.9 per cent fewer than 2016.
He further indicated that there were 1,154 shootings, 22.3 percent less than 2017 and a 5.9 per cent decline over 2016.
“In effect, Jamaica currently has a murder rate of approximately 47 per hundred thousand. This is almost three times higher than the average for Latin America and the Caribbean, which has the highest homicide rate globally of 16 per 100,000 of population,” he stated.
“We are approximately eight times higher than the global average of six per 100,000. Bear in mind, that New York, a metropolis of more than eight million people, had a murder rate of 3.3 per 100,000 or 289 murders in total,” he added.
The Prime Minister noted that, on average, approximately 18,000 deaths are registered in Jamaica annually, noting that based on 2014 data, 67 per cent of deaths, five years and older, were due to Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
However, he stated that in the age group 15 to 35, violence is the main cause of deaths, accounting for one-third of the casualties.
“Violence is the second leading cause of death in the age group 35 to 45. These are the most productive years of our citizens. If this were a disease, epidemiology would classify this as a health emergency,” Mr. Holness said.
As at January 7, 2019, 20 murders have been recorded, compared to 45 in the previous year. In St. Catherine North, for 2018, murders decreased by 28.5 per cent and shootings by 40.9 per cent respectively, compared to 2017.
In St. James, murders decreased by 70 per cent in 2018 and shootings by 58.6 percent respectively, relative to 2017.
“Though we have made significant gains in the reduction of violent crimes, we are not out of the woods. The criminal elements still retain the capacity, capability and the intent,” Mr. Holness said.
He added that through the employment of the States of Public Emergency and Zones of Special Operations “we have been able to reduce the opportunities to commit crimes and reduce the capability of some criminals.”
“However, the threat they pose still exists and are above the capacity of regular law enforcement in some areas. The statistics highlight that there are some areas of specific cause for concern. I wish to point out that Kingston and St. Andrew accounted for 11 out of the 20 murders,” the Prime Minister said.
“With the resources at our disposal; we will continue to focus on containing the gangs; maintaining presence as best as possible in order to reassure the public, using all the powers available under the Jamaica Constabulary Force Act to ensure the maximum level of security possible for our citizens. We have been doing so by using curfews and other methods at our disposal,” he added.
Mr. Holness said the Government continues to increase the amount of resources allocated to enhance the capacity of the criminal justice and law enforcement systems to be able to respond effectively to the growing and multiple threats to our national security and the peace and safety of the community.
Source: JIS News