June 11, 2001

Jamaica's crime statistics less accessible under new directive

                 KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) -- Jamaica's police department has barred its
                 public relations unit from releasing crime statistics to journalists, a
                 change that comes as the Caribbean nation grapples with violent crime.

                 The police statistics department will instead release the statistics each quarter,
                 said police spokeswoman Sgt. Sonia James. No one could be reached for
                 comment Sunday in the statistics unit.

                 Through Friday, 410 people had been killed so far in this Caribbean nation of
                 2.6 million people -- 94 of them in May alone.

                 James said she couldn't confirm why the directive was given Friday, nor would
                 she say whether it came from the police commissioner's office.

                 The Gleaner newspaper reported that journalists seeking current information
                 would have to submit written requests.

                 Jamaica has persistently had one the world's highest murder rates, much of it
                 related to violent gangs with ties to political parties that control large parts of
                 Kingston, the capital.

                   Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.