Crime levels are high, particularly the capital city Kingston. Gang violence and shootings are usually confined to inner city neighbourhoods, including West Kingston, Grant’s Pen, August Town, Harbour View, Spanish Town and certain parts of Montego Bay. Public order incidents and demonstrations can occur in Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay. You should avoid all demonstrations. Criminals often use these events as cover for robbery and theft.
The motive for most attacks on tourists is robbery. There are mobile police patrols, but you should take steps to protect yourself and your belongings. Be vigilant at all times, even if you’re staying with friends and family. Don’t walk alone in isolated areas or on deserted beaches, even during the day. Take particular care when withdrawing money from ATMs. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or wear eye-catching jewellery. Try to vary which restaurants you use. Using the same place too often might make you a target for thieves. Avoid using buses at night.
Most hotels and resorts are well guarded, but robberies can occur. Follow hotel security procedures. Use hotel safe, lock windows and doors and report suspicious activity. If you are in residential accommodation, make sure proper door locks and window grilles are fitted and consider employing a guard and fitting a house alarm. Gated and guarded compounds are normally the safest type of accommodation.
Criminals have targeted visiting British nationals and those returning to resettle permanently in Jamaica. There have been some violent incidents, including armed robbery, murder and rape. Before returning to resettle, seek advice from the Jamaican High Commission in London and the local Jamaican Information Service.
Don’t resist in the event of an attempted robbery. If you need the police in an emergency, call 119.
The Jamaican police may impose curfews at short notice for specific towns or areas.
Travelling from the airport
There have been outbreaks of violence in the Mountain View area on one route from Norman Manley International Airport into Kingston. Avoid this route and use the alternative signposted Humming Bird route via South Camp Road instead.
The British High Commission has received reports of British nationals being robbed when travelling to private accommodation from Norman Manley International Airport. Be especially vigilant when travelling from the airport to your accommodation.
You can drive in Jamaica using a UK driving licence for up to 6 months. If you aren’t familiar with Kingston, don’t drive in the city. If you get lost, you risk putting yourself and your passengers in personal danger. Some hire cars and minibuses don’t have seatbelts fitted in the rear. Check with the hire car company before you arrive.
Road accidents and fatalities are common. Many roads are badly maintained with poor signage. Roads in rural areas are narrow, winding and poorly lit at night. Speeding and drink-driving are common.
Drive defensively, and take great care on the roads, whether you are in a vehicle or a pedestrian. Drivers and front seat passengers must wear seat belts at all times. Keep the windows up and doors locked.
Motorcycle riders must wear a helmet.
Hurricanes, tropical storms and road-works can temporarily block roads. Check your route in advance.
Only use Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) approved taxis or minibuses for excursions, airport transfers and sightseeing. Don’t hail a taxi in the street and don’t share a taxi with strangers. Most hotels and resorts have assigned JTB drivers who carry photo ID and display a prominent blue JTB sticker on the front windscreen.