Big drop in murders as World Cup captivates Jamaican criminals

(Jamaica Observer) BILLED as The Greatest Show On Earth’, the 2014 World Cup, which kicked off June 12 with host nation Brazil facing European rivals Croatia, kept Jamaican criminals so busy that murders dropped by 70, or 12 per cent during the month-long soccer fiesta.

Jamaica football fans and even ‘wagonists’ piled up in front of television sets supporting the teams or players of their choice. Apparently not even crime could compete with the interest generated by the World Cup. The first noticeable development was a steep decline in traffic pile-ups, according to police, in parish capitals, notably when the more popular teams Brazil, Germany or Argentina were on the pitch. During the semi-final encounter between Brazil and Germany, Kingston and Montego Bay were like ghost towns.

But more significantly, the pull and allure of the World Cup had a major effect on the murder toll figures for the country, compared with earlier periods this year.

Based on statistics supplied by the police and confirmed by Minister of National Security Peter Bunting in his presentation to Parliament last Tuesday, murders during the period January 1 to July 13 totalled 520, or 70 less than the 590 recorded for the same period last year, an approximate decline of 12 per cent.

For the specific period of the World Cup — June 12 to July 13 2014 — a total of 75 murders were reported to the police. This figure compares with 104 murders in 2013, a difference of 29 and 96 murders in 2012, a difference of 21 murders.

“The decrease of 12 per cent or 70 actual murders during the period of consideration is quite significant for us. We have been working non-stop in our attempts to decrease murders and other major crimes. Despite the gains, there is still much more to be done, but we are very committed to the cause,” acting Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds told the Jamaica Observer.

“There is no doubt that when we have sporting events of the nature of the World Cup, the Olympics and the Athletics World Championships, there is a major positive effect on all crimes committed in Jamaica. Nonetheless, we are still patrolling, still carrying out our operations and still gathering intelligence. Given the impact of these major sporting events, I wouldn’t mind if we had one such event every month,” Hinds joked.

Of special note is the decrease of murders in the often problematic division of St James, which showed a decrease of seven murders year to date. The division with the largest decrease in murders thus far for the year is Clarendon, which had 65 murders in 2013, compared with 47 in 2014, a difference of 18. Westmoreland is not far off with a decline of 17 murders.

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