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Despite COVID-19 pandemic, Jamaica’s murder tally on track to surpass 2019 figures

The COVID-19 pandemic may have brought with it widespread changes to some areas of Jamaican life, but violent crimes, particularly murders, continue to plague the nation with no vaccine in sight.

According to official Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) statistics to date, 1,198 persons have been murdered in Jamaica since the start of the year and there still remains 30 days left to go.

When compared to the previous year, 2019, which recorded a grand total of 1,214 murders, that’s a difference of 16 persons.

Over the last 72 hours at least five persons* lost their lives due to violence, with Prime Minister Andrew Holness just days earlier announcing on Thursday (November 26) that the National Reserves would be deployed to support the JCF in the fight against crime.

Beginning on Saturday (November 28) 59-year-old Donovan Thomas, otherwise called ‘Taylor’, of Taylor Lane, Gordon Town, Spanish Town in St. Catherine was killed by unknown assailants at his home. Reports are that about 8:30 p.m., Thomas was at his home when explosions were heard and the Police summoned.

Later that same day, a 24-year-old man was shot and killed at a party in St Catherine. Reports from the police are that the man was at an illegal party in Naggo Head, when gunmen turned up at the session and opened fire at the patrons. Twenty-four-year-old Chade Stephenson and another were rushed to hospital, where Stephenson died.

The following day on Sunday (November 29) 26-year-old Patrick Lindsay, otherwise called ‘Akeem’, of Sunlight Street, Kingston 12 was shot and killed in the Callaloo Mews community.

While some areas have seen a decline in murders thus far, namely crime hotbeds like Clarendon (-28), St James(-23) and St Andrew South (-25) other areas not known for violent crimes have seen a marginal uptick like, St Ann (22), St Mary (8) and St Thomas (1).

Though the nation’s gaze has been solidly adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed 258 persons to date, that number pales in comparison to those already killed as a result of violent crimes.

Prior to the budget adjustments made by Finance Minister Nigel Clarke, the government had allocated $6.29 billion for public order and safety, down from the revised estimate of $7.2 billion for fiscal year 2019-20.

It is estimated that crime cost Jamaica in excess of $68 billion per year.

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