In moving the resolution for the extension, Prime Minister Andrew Holness argued that there had been reductions in violent crime in the areas under the measure.
He added that the current laws do not allow the security forces to adequately respond to what he described as the epidemic of crime affecting Jamaica.
He characterized Jamaica as “an outlier” in respect of its high incidence of murder, when compared to other countries of similar sized populations and level of development, such as the African states of Namibia and The Gambia.
Mr. Speaker, we know we are still not where we would want to be, but we cannot discount the value of these measures particularly, as it relates to saving lives.....we accepted from the outset that these interventions were never meant to be, a silver bullet," said Holness as he addressed parliament yesterday.
In fact, Mr. Speaker, over the period 30 April 2019 to 08 October 2019, during the period of the SOPE, reductions were recorded in all three Parishes:
- Murders and shootings in the parish of St. James have reduced by 5% (64 to 61) and 13% (61 to 53) respectively, when compared to the equivalent 162 days period (19 November 2018 – 29 April 2019) prior to the declaration;
- Murders and shootings in the parish of Westmoreland have reduced by 62% (55 to 21) and 58% (57 to 24), when compared to the equivalent 162 days period (19 November 2018 – 29 April 2019) prior to the declaration, and;
- Murders and shootings in the parish of Hanover have reduced by 52% (23 to 11) and 86% (22 to 3), when compared to the equivalent 162 days period (19 November 2018 – 29 April 2019) prior to the declaration.
- A total of one thousand, eight hundred and ninety-four (1,894) persons were detained; of which one hundred and forty-eight (148) were arrested and seventy-four (74) remain in custody.
- In terms of crime categories, there were nine hundred and one (901) arrests and charges within the Division for varying offences; to include breach of the firearms Act (138), Breach of the Dangerous Drugs Act (86), murder (45), shooting (42) and robbery (34).
- Sixty (60) firearms and four thousand, one hundred and thirty-three (4,133) ammunition have also been recovered.
The threat of guns, gangs and dons in the areas under the SOPE remains prevalent.
The gangs operating in the three divisions are known to perpetuate violent criminal activities; thereby causing a high level of fear and insecurity among the citizenry," Holness maintained.
- The rates of murders and shootings collectively in the Bi-parish area, have been reduced by 62% (from 42 to 16) and 70% (from 27 to 8) when compared to the equivalent 34 days period prior to the SOPE (02 August 2019– 04 September 2019) prior to the declaration;
- Murders and shootings in the Police Division of St. Catherine North have reduced by 69% (13 to 4) and 50% (10 to 5) respectively, when compared to the equivalent 34 days period (02 August 2019 to 04 September 2019) prior to the declaration;
- Murders and shootings in the Police Division of St. Catherine South have reduced by 36% (14 to 9) and 89% (9 to 1) respectively, when compared to the equivalent 34 days period (02 August 2019 to 04 September 2019) prior to the declaration;
- Murders and shootings in the Police Division of Clarendon have reduced by 80% (15 to 3) and 75% (8 to 2) respectively, when compared to the equivalent 34 days period (02 August 2019 to 04 September 2019) prior to the declaration;
A total of one thousand, one hundred and forty-five (1,145) persons were detained; of which two hundred and seven (207) were arrested; eighty-six (86) remain in custody.
- In terms of crime categories, there were three hundred and two (302) arrests and charges within the Division for varying offences to include; breach of the firearms Act (35), Breach of the Dangerous Drugs Act (32), murder (10), shooting (09), robbery (10) and sexual offences (20).
- Eleven (11) firearms and one hundred and six (106) ammunition have also been recovered.
Over the period 01 January 2019 to 09 October 2019;
- Clarendon recorded 103 murders; this reflects the third highest for number of murders among all police divisions.
- St. Catherine South Police Division recorded 101 murders; this reflects the fourth highest number of murders for that period.
- St. Catherine North Police Division recorded 70 murders; this reflects the sixth highest number of murders for the same period.
Mr. Speaker, with reference to the globally recognised measure of homicides in relation to population (homicides per 100,000), Clarendon and St. Catherine reflect rates of 45 and 33 murders per 100,000 inhabitants which is still significantly higher than the regional average of 15.1 per 100,000 and the world average of 6.1 per 100,000.
Mr. Speaker, analysis of crime data still indicates that there are some concerns, particularly from the threat posed by gangs in the area, which has been linked to the prevalence of violent crime across the Police Divisions.
Therefore, despite any positive impact that has been derived since the imposition of the State of Public Emergency, the security forces are recommending further extensions, as they require more time in order to achieve their objectives.
Adopting the term “epidemic” in relation to crime as an urgent public health issue, he argued that “you have to use emergency powers.”
A meeting of “national stakeholders,” scheduled for Thursday, was therefore particularly important, he said, in arriving at a consensus “as to how we put those powers together to allow the security forces to respond in this emergency.”
The House also voted to extend the zones of special operations in Denham Town, Kingston and Mount Salem, St. James.
The State of Emergency in the St. Andrew South police division, imposed on July 7, was last extended by votes in the House of Representatives on October 1 and in the Senate on October 4, and is set to expire on January 1.
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