MONTEGO BAY, St James — Commander of the Area One Police Division, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Clifford Chambers, said the constant migration of criminals have contributed to an upsurge in crimes in Trelawny since the start of the year.
“Trelawny’s major crime statistics, as it is now, is above where they were last year, but it is important to understand the dynamics of Trelawny. Trelawny has been one of the safest parishes and, if a parish is safe, even criminals will go to that parish,” Chambers said, when asked for an update on crime in the region after a recent Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) media briefing at the Salt Spring Primary School in St James.
“Also, what we have observed is that there are over 9,000 residents in Trelawny which is far more than what it is was a year or two years ago,” ACP Chambers added.
According to statistics provided by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Trelawny has recorded 27 murders up to August 29, 2022. This is a 170 per cent increase over the 10 murders recorded for the same period in 2021.
Chambers maintained that the victims of these crimes are not from the parish and are the ones bringing violent activities to what was once the safest parish in the western region.
“As it relates to those major crimes, what we are seeing is that the [individuals] who have been impacted are not from the parish. They are from Hanover, Westmoreland and St James, so a lot of the crime and violence followed them,” ACP Chambers told the Jamaica Observer.
“The genesis is not in Trelawny, but we see that people who are after them realise where they are at and take it up on themselves to target them. As a result of that, we have seen an increase in crimes in Trelawny over where we were last year.”
Admittedly, Chambers told the Observer, the growth of Trelawny has also affected the “dynamics of policing” the parish.
“There are over 1.7 million transient population… and again, that adds to the number and the dynamics of policing. There are about five housing projects in Trelawny and what we are seeing is that adds in an excess of 650 additional persons in Trelawny,” the assistant commissioner explained.
“We have also seen the ports, the cruise ships and all these are adding to the architecture of Trelawny, which is putting a little bit more pressure on the police.”
However, Chambers said that it is important to note that the police have made several breakthrough in cases surrounding crime in Trelawny since the start of the year and the parish’s crime numbers are steadily decreasing.
The JCF’s statistics further reported that some 61 serious crimes have been committed in Trelawny since the start of the year, while 54 were reported over this period last year.
“The good thing is that these persons are known, and subsequent to those major crimes there have been a lot of arrests. As it is now, for the last three to four months, the crime in Trelawny is not rising; it is going down. So even though we are above where we were last year, it is much lower than it is perceived.”
ACP Chambers further pointed out that “crime is going in the right direction” across the four western parishes, as the police have reported a decrease in the number of crime and violence cases being reported in the second quarter of 2022.
“For the first quarter, the numbers that we had were not to our liking, but for the second quarter what we have had is an over 40 per cent reduction in major crimes. Where we’re at now compared to the same period last year, we are on or about 21 more major crimes, but as it relates to where we are month by month, we are continuously going down and for that we are grateful,” Chambers told the Observer.
“There [are] a lot of initiatives that contributed to that and a lot of community and social intervention. A lot of arrests have been made, but for the most part we have also had a significant amount of convictions of persons who were arrested and put before the court. All the indexes at this point [are] giving us some good results and we are grateful,” the assistant commissioner said.
According to the JCF’s statistics, at August 29, the four western parishes have reported 670 serious crimes. St James and Westmoreland are currently leading the west with 272 and 262, respectively. The region reported 615 serious crimes during this same period in 2021.