Above, from left: Assistant Commissioner of Police Elan Powell and Commissioner Owen Ellington during a press conference held at the Police Officers’ Club in Kingston Wednesday (JIS Photo)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The number of murders in Jamaica fell 22 percent in 2011, according to figures revealed today by Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington.
Serious violent crimes also fell in the country, showing a 17.1 percent reduction compared to 2010, along with a “13 percent fall in the number of shootings.
“Last year was a fairly good one for us in law enforcement and certainly Jamaica, because we completed the year with almost 23 percent reduction in murders,” he said.
The ultimate goal for the police force is to bring the murder rate within the range of 12 per 100,000 of the population, Ellington said, “so that crime and insecurity may no longer be a major concern for people who live in Jamaica, who work in Jamaica, and who have any intention to invest in this country.”
There were a total of 1700 murders in Jamaica in 2009.
The commissioner said part of the reported decrease came as a result of a renewed anti-gang strategy — with 70 to 80 percent of serious violent crimes in Jamaica attributed to the activities of gangs and organized crime.
A number of areas showed improvement in 2011, with 15 of 19 police divisions showing reductions in murders, he said.
“There are some divisions that didn’t show decline, but they have contributed in a significant way as well to the declines that we have seen in other divisions, because of the work the men and women did in those divisions to disrupt gangs, to deny gangs access to critical infrastructure and to deny them the freedom of movement and freedom of action that they need to move around the place,” Ellington said.
In November, the National Security Ministry said 2011 was the safest year in four decades for the police force, with a significant drop in crimes against police officers.