Unfortunately Jamaica crime levels are high in some parts of the country. While Jamaica is a beautiful vacation destination, travelers should keep vigilant and be aware of the current crime and safety situation. Here is what you need to know about Jamaica crime and safety in 2017:
Is it safe in Jamaica?
Violent crime is a problem in larger cities such as Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay where gangs are common in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Travelers are advised to avoid high-crime areas of Kingston including Mountain View, Trench Town, Tivoli Gardens, Standpipe, Cassava Piece, Grants Pen and Arnett Gardens. While reports of violent crimes against tourists are low, visitors to these areas run the risk of becoming victims.
The primary concern for travelers in Jamaica are crimes of opportunity, such as petty theft, pick pocketing and the snatching of bags in tourist areas.
Be vigilant and secure your belongings and travel documents. It’s best not to carry large amounts of cash and display signs of wealth. Cell phones are popular items for theft.
While in Jamaica do not walk alone, even during the day. If possible travel with groups of people you know. It is best to avoid isolated areas and beaches after dark.
There have been reports of sexual assaults by hotel resort staff. Visitors should avoid excessive drinking (especially at all-inclusive resorts) and never leave food or drinks unattended. Travelers should always make sure their hotel room doors and windows are secure.
The skimming of debit and credit cards is a problem in Jamaica. Be sure to keep your cards under your control at all times. Try to use ATMs at banks during business hours. When entering your PIN, shield the keypad with your free hand. If you have a problem, or the ATM does not seem to work properly, report it to the bank immediately. Be prudent and monitor your bank and credit card balances during and following travel to detect any inappropriate withdrawals or charges.
Jamaica crime rate in 2017
The homicide rate in Jamaica is among the highest in the world, ranking in the top-five per capita. Last year, Jamaica saw an increase in murders and shootings but a decrease of other serious, violent crimes. The rise in murders is attributed to gang violence. Most violent crimes and murders involve firearms. In 2016 there were 1,350 murders (an increase of 11.8% from 2015 and the highest in 5 years), 1,216 shootings, 449 aggravated assaults, 480 rapes, 1,415 robberies and 1,268 break-ins in Jamaica.
Is it safe in Montego Bay?
Parts of Montego Bay suffer from the same inner-city crime problems as Kingston. Visitors should avoid Flankers, Canterbury, Norwood, Rose Heights, Clavers Street, and Hart Street where gangs and crime are common.
The downtown Montego Bay Hip Strip is popular with tourists because of the numerous bars, clubs, and shops. Tourists visiting the Hip Strip should aware of the risk of pickpockets and petty theft.
Is it safe in Negril?
Most hotels and resorts are guarded, but robberies can still occur. Make sure doors and windows in your room are secure and avoid traveling alone. Be especially vigilant after dark and avoid dimly lit areas and beaches at night.
Jamaica health issues
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Zika is a risk and women who are pregnant should not travel to Jamaica. All travelers should take steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual exposure to Zika virus during and after their trip.
Sources: U.S. Department of State, Centers for Disease Control, Government of Canada, Government of the United Kingdom, United Nations.