Kingston - Post Report Question and Answers

Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Do some research, as it seems Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the world. You WILL see - repeatedly, on a daily basis, every day - drivers going through red lights. Taxi drivers are some of the more aggressive drivers I've seen anywhere in the world - dangerous, vocal, aggressive, in my opinion. Many drivers of large vehicles - buses and trucks - drive as though they are driving their personal cars - right up behind you, and weaving in and out of traffic. Much of Kingston is off-limits to USG employees, yet USG is lowering the differential. An area right across from the Embassy is off-limits. You will drive by or through off-limits areas to and from the airport. When you stop at a red light, you will often be approached by beggars or windscreen washers. Some are VERY aggressive and threatening. We have driven through a red light to escape from an aggressive beggar who was hitting our vehicle. - May 2022

Sexual harassment of anyone in a skirt seems common. This can be friendly banter bordering on aggressive and just way too much if you are on the streets. I tend to avoid the safe walking places if there are large groups of workmen hanging around; the local gardeners are usually friendly. It seems men will hang out of cars like you are their best friend and want your phone number and definite acknowledgement that they are just awesome. Sometimes peaceful walks are ruined by this. In my opinion, do not let your teenage daughters out alone they will be harassed if they are not escorted. - May 2022

Kingston can handle minor medical issues. Anything major people will go to Miami. - Jan 2020

Kingston is a high crime post. Some parts of the island are off limits. We are not allowed to walk in most of the places, which makes life at post much more difficult. It can be tough for young women walking outside alone, even for a couple of minutes in broad daylight. Local men can be unwaveringly aggressive. - Aug 2018

Yes. Realistically, roads seem to me to be the biggest danger. Roads are in poor condition and it seems reckless driving makes the problem worse. Also, Jamaica also has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Much of the murder rate can be chalked up to drug and gang-related violence. It's my understanding that unless you are a victim of a home invasion, or go to the wrong neighborhood or are in the wrong place at the wrong time, you are not a big target as a foreigner. That said, it seems security firms are some of the largest employers in Jamaica, so clearly it is an issue. In the last few years, sexual assaults of women at resorts has also been an issue. - Jun 2018

This is a critical crime post so security issues are part of life. Lock your doors when driving. Be vigilant in locking your gates and turning on alarms. Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid the restricted areas of the city as directed by RSO. All that being said, I have never personally felt threatened or unsafe. - Mar 2017

Yes, very violent country. Most of my local colleagues have had a relative murdered. There was a murder near Embassy housing last year. It just isn't safe to go out and you cannot walk anywhere, ever. - Apr 2016

Kingston is known as a high-crime area but this was largely confined to the downtown portions of the city. Typically, there is little crime (petty or otherwise) in the parts of town where expats live. That said, there were some incidents of home break-ins or theft/muggings at ATMs around town. Most people who used common sense were okay and they avoided the downtown areas and were discrete when using ATMs or going out for the night. - Dec 2014

It's a high crime area but if you're careful you'll be fine. Most houses have grills and U.S. Embassy houses have a 24-hour security guard outside. Can't walk anywhere really and I don't drive after dark all too often. - Oct 2014

This is a critical crime post. That says it all. - Mar 2014

Yes. Jamaica is #4 in the world for per-capital murder rate. Most of the crime is intra-community violence tied to politics and the drug trade, but there's plenty of opportunistic crime as well. Violence can pop up on very short notice here, so you've always got to be careful of where you are and who is around you. It limits your ability to get out among Jamaican society pretty heavily. - Dec 2013

There are security concerns, especially in Kingston. Be aware of your surroundings, as in any other urban environment. Most violence is gang on gang, or targeted at locals, but there are a lot of break-ins. Many complexes have security guards. - Aug 2011

Kingston Jamaica is a high-crime area -- usually just petty theft, though, i.e. pickpocketing, etc. Just know where to go and do not go into Kingston downtown. That is a no-no, and using public transportation is a no-no. - Jul 2010

Yes, Jamaica is the 3rd-most dangerous country in terms of crime. Every day there are murders, rapes and break-ins. We heard gunshots a few times, and we were in the safest area in Kingston. Also, do not walk alone, ever, and never take a walk at night - even with other people. If you want to take a walk it has to be day time. Be with a group, do not carry much money with you, and no valuables. Also, most expat homes have an armed guard. - May 2010

There are extremely high security concerns here. One must have bars/grills on ALL windows and doors. One must drive with windows up and doors locked. One must avoid certain neighborhoods at all times. All that said, our townhouse community is very comfortable, and children play freely at the community playground, women jog alone in the evening and families walk into and out of neighbors' houses with ease. - Nov 2009

Very High. You need to always be on alert. Lots of beggers on the streets and they can get mean. Windows need to be up and locked at all times. Try to only use the ATM at the Embassy, if you can, otherwise it can be scary. Do NOT use the ATMs after dark. Crime here is very high and affects how you live your life here. I don't go out much after dark. - Jan 2009

Yes, major. Never go out alone, and never go out at night even with someone. There is alot of crime here. Be carefull and do not do anything that will make you stand out. - Jan 2009

Extremely high at all times. I always recommend that people make certain the houses/ apartments that they choose have bars/ grills on all windows and doors. Most friends who move here and tried not installing grills got burglarized within the first month. Jamaica, while a beautiful country, has the 3rd highest murder rate. Poverty and high levels of unemployment may be driving the criminal element. - May 2008

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