I’ve written a lot this year about crime and, in particular, murder. The prospect for higher crime, as a result of conditions created by the pandemic, were clear from Spring:
So, the release of data showing a pandemic-related surge in crime and murders ought not to be a surprise.
Some of the comments seem to not see obvious dots to join:
The Gleaner wrote: ‘Among the measures were all-island curfews, which require citizens to remain indoors, and a lockdown of the entire parish of St Catherine as well as several communities in the capital city, St Mary and Clarendon. But according to the statistics, St Catherine, which was also blanketed by a SOE up to August 17, leads all parishes with 123 killings across its two police divisions since March 10.’ It doesn’t take much wit to understand that knowing that security forces are stretched even further than before must leave more ‘space’ in which organized crime can operate. It’s also true that there will be fewer ‘accidental’ observers around; it’s as if the fields have been cleared for only the ‘best’ and stronger players.
The Gleaner also reported: ‘Beau Rigabie, commanding officer for the St Catherine North Police, could not confirm The Sunday Gleaner’s figure, but said gangsters fighting for “dominance” of lucrative turf in the Old Capital were contributing to the killings. Other causative factors, he said, were domestic disputes and street-level crimes committed by armed thugs.’ That seems to confirm my deduction in that the fight for turf is easier during curfew conditions.
Domestic (aka ‘intimate partner’) violence increasing is no surprise as the tensions and conditions that nurture that are more evident during the pandemic, with many more people confined to their homes—school and work, for instance, offer little escape. It’s been a phenomenon noted in many countries.
As the Washington Post report notes, clearly:
‘For untold numbers of women and children around the globe, the coronavirus pandemic has meant a twofold threat: The risk of catching a deadly virus coupled with the peril of being locked in confined spaces with increasingly violent abusers.
Official statistics are mixed. In some countries, reports of abuse have risen during the pandemic; in others, including the United States, they’ve fallen. But people who work with victims say that in countries seeing fewer complaints, the numbers mask a darker reality. The closure of schools and day-care centers means teachers and social workers have been unable to identify and report abuse. A growing body of evidence suggests incidents of domestic violence are rising as fam ilies struggle with restrictions on movement and mounting economic hardship.’
The real issues for Jamaica are whether these crises are being seen and addressed or only seen, with hindsight, with the common lament that ‘we didn’t know’.