The Shadow Minister said the figures given by the Minister of National Security, Hon. Horace Chang do not correlate with the data he has received from credible sources, which point to the reduction of assigned security personnel from both the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Jamaica Defense force (JDF) in St James.
Mr Jackson said that there is a reduction per shift assignment by the JCF to 60% of security personnel; and the JDF presence in the parish is 46% lower than it was during the SOE. This factor alone contradicts the assurances given by both the Commissioner of Police and the Minister of National Security that the strategy, including the level of deployment of security personnel assigned to the affected area would be sustained, he said.
The data available to the Opposition shows that during the period of the SOE, the JCF augmented its capacity by drawing members from all 17 divisions as well as from non-geographic areas of the constabulary. The numbers were further beefed-up with conscription from the training school as well as from the recruit service Corp of the JDF.
The Shadow Minister of National Security said the Opposition maintains that the numbers and information it has received prove that the strategy, the deployment and visibility of security personnel have changed hence the reasons criminals believe they now have the freedom to commit acts of criminality.
“Instead of fixing the crime problem of St James, the National Security Minister, who is a Member of Parliament from the parish is busy impugning political motives, which cannot solve the problem we are facing today,” Mr Jackson said.
Mr Jackson has reiterated that the government has the option to extend the measures of the Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) in St James and maintain the intensity of the operation. The citizens of Montego Bay deserve the peace and freedom to move about without the constant worrying of fear of violence, he said.
The Shadow Minister said he supports fully the position taken by the Leader of the Opposition during the Budget Debate that the ZOSO legislation provides for the deployment of joint police/military operations as well as allowing the security forces to detain suspects, search and cordon areas of volatility.
Since December last year, we have urged the government to use the power of ZOSOs in the crime affected areas. To-date, ZOSOs have only been used in Mount Salem and Denham Town.
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