JCF boosts manpower as school violence flares

April 07, 2022
Police chief Antony Anderson
Police chief Antony Anderson

Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson says that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has deployed 55 additional officers to assist school administrators who are dealing with a flare-up of violence in their schools.

"We note with some concern the type of violence we have been seeing and really the imagery that we have been seeing as well, and I know a number of members of the public have been seeing those images of violence and have been concerned. So that has moved us to that position where we are training our members to support school administrators in this challenge," he said.

Anderson, who was speaking at a virtual press conference on Tuesday, said that the forced two-year suspension of face-to-face learning due to COVID-19 has played a key role in the number of youngsters becoming increasingly involved in illicit activities including lottery scamming and gun violence.

"I can't quantify exactly how much of this has occurred, but certainly our sense of it as a police force is that a number of those youngsters who were left idle have become involved in other things that are not wholesome," he said. Anderson said that the police did a number of things to try and support the youth who were out of school.

"As we came back to face-to-face [learning], we see that there were people who, in that intervening period, because perhaps of the time they have available to them, got involved in things they shouldn't have. Lottery scamming being one, sometimes violence in association with their elder brothers, their families involved in gang activities and so on," he said.

Since March 2020 there has been an upsurge in the number of youngsters, particularly teenage boys, who are reportedly playing key roles in criminal gangs across the island. Some of these youngsters have either been arrested or killed during gunfights. Anderson said that during the suspension of face-to-face classes, many of the children who are from vulnerable backgrounds were left exposed to criminal influences and have returned to school with criminal mindsets.

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