Jamaica’s High School Gang Problem

April 28, 2017 Crime , North America , OPINION/NEWS

By

Ricardo Swire

2016 Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) statistics calculated 258 criminal gangs co-exist on the Caribbean island. Bases are located in St Catherine North and South, St James, Clarendon, Kingston West, St Andrew South and Westmoreland, evidence highlighting that schools serve as recruitment centers for gangs and local organized crime groups. Gangs in schools are analyzed as a subset of the Caribbean’s larger youth violence problem.

The Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in charge of Community Safety & Security opined one of four students carried a weapon to school, knives, icepicks and sharp objects the preferred defense. The sixteen year old Fercourt High School Grade 11 male student, who stabbed a St Ann schoolboy to death, demonstrated the ACP’s observation. Jamaica’s Code of Regulations mandated by the Education Act has been amended. Special permission now allows physical restraint of dangerous students by school officials.

JCF intelligence operatives noted a spiral in high school student gangs, especially St Catherine North and South districts. The Umbrella gang, Unruly gang and One Order gang exploit “low budget,” “zero risk,” young men to circumvent Jamaica’s legal system. The gangs maintain both local and overseas membership predominantly in America, Canada and Great Britain. In the US Jamaican gang members are most active in California, Maryland, Missouri and New Jersey.

The One Order gang based in Spanish Town, St Catherine also has an expanding Bahamian offshoot. Locally “Shotta” students are employed as “Movers” who transport illegal items on their person such as guns, ammunition and drugs. One Ministry of National Security document mentioned fifteen guns seized by JCF officers and two hundred and one students arrested, for criminal offences committed at public schools across Jamaica. Patterns show when charged young gang recruits receive merciful court penalties.

The government’s November 2004 “Safe School Program” facilitated JCF members assignment as “School Resource Officers” (SROs), at 89 “troubled” educational institutions in St James, St Ann, St Elizabeth, Kingston and St Andrew. The SROs identified seventeen school gangs. In an academic year 1,288 incidents of violence in schools reported. SROs intervened in 915 fights and 160 robberies, 50 marijuana packages seized. 431 knives, 486 pairs of scissors, among weapons confiscated from school children.

In 2016 1,350 murders were committed on the island. Weapon of choice was the gun, responsible for 1,094 slayings. Knives killed 116 victims, 140 assassinations performed by other methods. JCF tabulations surmised gang members committed 65% of 2016’s murders. The National Strategic Anti-Gang Unit targeted 20 gangs during the period, 356 criminal characters detained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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