MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Councillor Mario Mitchell (People’s National Party) says a crime wave is moving across the parish as murders and robberies have drastically increased.
Mitchell, in addressing Thursday’s monthly meeting of the local municipality, pinpointed the Greenvale community as one with active gangs and questioned the police’s crime-fighting strategies to tackle migrant criminals, arrest known violence producers and social intervention.
“I would like to know if there is any information on that?” he asked.
Inspector Berthlyn Lloyd, sub-officer at the Manchester Community, Safety and Security Branch (CSSB), in responding to Mitchell’s question, said the police have been actively pursuing gangs.
“The gangs we are treating with and as you speak of the Greenvale space, we had a walk-through in September in lower [bottom] Greenvale and on October 20 we will be having a walk-through in top Greenvale,” she said.
Statistics from the Manchester police show that up to October 8, the south-central parish recorded 362 major crimes since the start of the year when compared to 328 for the corresponding period last year. Forty-six murders have been recorded in comparison to 21 for the corresponding period. Thirty-five shootings have been recorded in comparison to 25 for the corresponding period. Ninety robberies have been recorded in comparison to 68 for the corresponding period.
Further, Inspector Lloyd said 22 of the 46 murders committed have been cleared (arrest and charges laid on accused) and four committed last year were also solved. She added that the police have arrested suspects in a recent case of abduction where the victim was lured via social media.
“… Some of these persons are meeting [others] on social media and are turning up to meet them, so that is where the issue is. Just on the weekend the police rescued a female who met somebody on social media and came into the space and she was abducted for almost a week,” she said.
Mitchell said citizens are concerned about the spate of crime even as the Christmas season approaches.
“Gone are the days when break-ins used to be our major concern… murders are up… robberies have been up, so for the Christmas period itself the business community who are doing large transactions, mechanisms are being put in place for that… Are we going to have an increase in police [presence] on the ground?” Mitchell asked.
“The concern also of the known violence producers within the parish… It begs the question that I asked a few years ago. I normally would see officers going into some schools. What is the state of that programme? Because a number of the violence producers are very young — 15, 16, 17 years old,” he added.
In the meantime, Mitchell made reference to the Jamaica Observer’s October 4 story headlined “Lockdown Greenvale” as he questioned if the police are contemplating tight security measures in Manchester.
“The zones of special operations, which may be controversial to this parish, are we looking at something like that, because the Member of Parliament for North West Manchester Mikael Phillips asked that Greenvale be lockdown?” Mitchell asked.
“Is the police putting things in place to lockdown Manchester for the migrating criminals who will be coming, because you will have a highway that is supposed to be finished in March 2023?” he added.
The US$188-million May Pen to Williamsfield leg of Highway 2000 — which will reduce travel time between Kingston, Mandeville and points west — was originally scheduled for completion in October 2022.
Mitchell urged the police to patrol roads in deep-rural Manchester in search of migrant criminals.
“There are a number of through roads in all 15 divisions [parochial] being used to bypass the major roads. Some of the roads that are there must be paid keen attention also,” he said.
In responding to Mitchell, Inspector Lloyd said the police are treating with violence producers and migrant criminals. She went on to state that a lack of interest among young people to join neighbourhood watches is concerning as where neighbourhood watches exist, crime is down.
“One of the challenges we are [facing] is that the young people are not really interested and one of the challenges we are having with the neighbourhood watches most of the people who are interested are old and some have died,” she added.
Inspector Lloyd is, however, optimistic that activities in police youth clubs will bring about change.