This is a major concern for everybody here in Jamaica and abroad and a very difficult topic to discuss. I’m sure as a future returnee resident you’ve heard the horror stories, seen it in the news, heard the circulated voice notes and it scares the hell out of you and you wonder what the hell is happening on your little island of Jamaica.
But is this really a true reflection of what is happening? Is the whole story being told? Is the island an open prison of walking criminals just waiting to strike around every corner, behind every banana tree and every fence? Is Jamaica really as dangerous as they say?
The Bearer of Bad News Where You Are
Here are just a few headlines for you that you actually might not be aware of and let me know what you think about this:
Man Stole Car With Baby Inside
Officers Pull Dead Body From Ocean
Man killed in Drive-by Shooting
Man Stabbed Outside His Home
Passenger Attacked On Bus Dies
Driver Runs Over Customers After Fight
40 Killings a Month!
Oh my goodness! Scary headlines right. But none of this happened in the so-called dangerous island of Jamaica. It’s happening right where you are, right now, this very minute, this very second even. But you don’t want to hear that do you.
Yes, a crime spree is happening but it’s happening where you live right now. Fort Lauderdale, the Bronx, Toronto, London and Trinidad a population of 1.3 million is also currently going through a crime crisis. Does it affect you? Were you aware that it was happening right on your doorstep? How could you live in such a crime infested place? Why isn’t anything being done?
These are some of the typical things that people say and will say to you when wanting to live in Jamaica, how could you live there it’s so dangerous, right? I hope you can see where I’m going with this. Fortunately, touch wood, I have never experienced crime directly in Jamaica only indirectly with family and friends or acquaintances who have experienced theft but I have in the UK.
I’ve had my car stolen once, broken into twice, been on public transport, yes, a bus, where a man pulled out a gun and then chased a man through Butterfly Walk on Christmas Eve some years ago. In 2005 I missed the 7/7 terrorist bus attack that blew up while on my way to work because I was too slow waddling that morning due to my pregnancy, I’ve had my purse stolen and my credit card maxed out. And yes, all this happened while living in London.
Right now, sorry to sound facetious but the way my old hometown of London is sounding it seems as if a State of Emergency needs to be called and a travel warning sent out worldwide in regards to safety in London as it doesn’t sound like a place I want to visit anytime soon if I pay attention to the headlines. I think I will take my chances here, I feel a lot safer in “Dangerous Jamaica”!
PLEASE NOTE: I’m not justifying what is taking place in Jamaica just observing and listening to public opinion and trying to find a true balance of things that are happening worldwide.
Putting Things into Perspective
According to the Census of the London Borough of Lewisham, it has a population of 292,000 with a demographic of around 46% being of black or minority ethnic origin a lot being from the Jamaican diaspora. Now according to Lewisham’s police statistics, 31,159 crimes were committed in 2017 alone and let’s get real here, those are the ones they know about.
So you see, you really do not have to feel any more vulnerable in Jamaica than you do where you are right now. You’re probably thinking I don’t like the sound of this blog post but I’m just trying to put things into perspective for you and give you the cold hard facts. Straight, no chaser.
No matter where you live there will be incidents of crime, you just have to live the best life you can, enjoy your time with good friends and loving family and appreciate everything that you have in life wherever you are.
Social Media Damage
How often have you heard positive news about Jamaica through your social media? Are you eager to hear and share positive Jamaican news stories? How quickly do you press SHARE of the horrific stories that have been circulated on your Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter accounts compared with the positive, feel-good ones?
There’s been many a time I’ve had to stop people from sending videos, voice notes, pictures etc of negative things that have happened across the island. If you continually listen out for these things you wouldn’t leave your house! And I’m telling you ‘Jamaica noiice’ so it would be a shame to miss out because of all the bad news being circulated.
Have you ever looked at Good News Jamaica and shared the positive feel-good vibes of what’s happening on the island. Find out who the innovators are, the progressive people who are uplifting their communities and country? We need to share more of this on our social media rather than the constant negatives. Anyway, that’s the end of my soapbox rant.
Here’s a little statistic that you might not have been aware of for Jamaica. According to the ITU Worldwide Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database, when it comes to mobile usage Jamaica is 4th within the Caribbean region but has a 3.1 million subscription usage compared to a population of 2.8 million. That means there is a percentage of Jamaicans that have more than one mobile phone to share the news with globally. In percentages that’s a whopping 109%. Worldwide mobile phone subscription usage is 97%.
Now with the high usage of mobile phones to communicate with loved ones in the diaspora how easy is it now for news and local gossip to be spread like wildfire with images and videos included across the world but just like what the Jamaica Broadcasting Commission (you’ve just got to watch this video, as it’s sooo true) says wait for the full facts first before sharing.
The majority of crime incidents that take place are not just isolated they don’t tend to be random either, there is usually a story behind it. Longtime family feuds, domestic violence, drug and gang-related crimes. So it’s very unlikely that you just walking down the street going about your daily business in Spalding, Port Antonio, Browns Town or any other non-volatile place would be affected. It’s just like walking down Miramar Parkway in Florida, no different.
You’re probably wondering what’s with all the statistics, well, I put them there for you to see that I’m not just talking from the top of my head, information is out there that you can research and find out. Jamaica has a population of approximately 2.8 million people and there’s possibly another 2.8 million Jamaicans out in the diaspora.
If all the good things that Jamaica had to offer was shared as much as the negatives on our smartphones do you see how many people it would reach? And just remember this does not include tourists, expats, long-term winter vacationers.
Be Sensible and Be Smart
Simple request right but it takes common sense and just the regular old street smarts to function in any country and a well-prepared mindset. So here are just a few tips that I’m sure you are already aware of and use in your everyday life.
- Do not advertise your wealth or show off your valuables. If you didn’t wear that large thick gold chain where you are now why do it in Jamaica? If people didn’t know how much you were earning before you left ‘farin’ why tell them when you’re in Jamaica.
- Be aware when dealing with your finances at the bank. Change up your pattern a bit. So, for instance, if building your tropical dream house try not to go to the same bank every Thursday at 1.30pm to do large transactions.
- Try not to carry large amounts of cash on you if possible.
- Don’t advertise to the whole community when you’re going on holiday or when you plan on returning from holiday.
- Keep your handbag closed or zipped. Don’t leave valuables lying around. If out shopping keep large notes separate, away from those you plan on using when going to the local marketplace. You remember your granny ‘thread bag’? You don’t need to go that far but be wise.
- Be aware of your surroundings when in crowded places.
- Don’t expect to walk home alone at 2am in the morning listening to your iPhone through earphones or talking on your Samsung Galaxy S9 lit up like a Christmas tree.
- Don’t go to volatile areas if you have no real reason to.
- Do not isolate yourself away from the local community where you live. But don’t invite everybody into your home.
Like I said, be sensible. All the advice given above is the same advice given by all metropolitan and constabulary forces worldwide.
FREE TIP: When you collect your keys to your newly built house whether on a housing scheme, secure gated development or just on your own land just like what you did when you moved into your new home abroad, please change the locks on the doors and grills. It’s just plain common sense. Yes, with all the excitement of getting your tropical dream home you might have forgotten that one simple security detail.
Let me just add I myself do not live in a gated community, I live in a local community where I know some of the people and some of the people know me. One key thing, do not just speak with other returnee residents, be social with all in your community, get to know as many people and build up a good rapport and a circle of people you can trust. This will develop slowly over time.
Just as when moving to a new neighborhood you have good and bad everywhere. Get to know the good, be aware of your surroundings, learn about your environment. Get involved in local activities, youth programs, church groups, Kiwanis, Lions club. If sports is your thing find out what’s happening locally. If gardening or farming is your interest then get to know who heads up the local club or group. The local PTAs are always looking for new members so if you have children join up.
Did you know that right now where you are considering to live a group of people do early morning walks? Why not find out more and join them when you arrive.
In a nutshell, don’t be a stranger and get involved. You will develop strong and friendly relationships along the way.
You might also be interested in reading: 4 Questions To Ask Before Moving To Jamaica
So the next time you hear someone ask you, you really want to live in Jamaica, it’s too dangerous? Just show them their local news headline or tell them to watch the evening primetime news where they are. That should keep them quiet.