KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday September 21, 2018 – The House of Representatives has extended the State of Public Emergency in the parish of St. Catherine for another three months.
This follows approval of the Emergency Powers (No. 2) (Continuance) (No.3) Resolution, 2018, during Wednesday’s (September 19) sitting of the House. The security measure in St. Catherine North Police Division, which was slated to end on October 2, will remain in place until January 2019.
All 47 members who were present voted in favour of the extension. Sixteen members were absent.
Addressing the House, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, said the enhanced security measures in the St. Catherine North Police Division have resulted in a 68 per cent reduction in murders and shootings.
“Since the intervention, that is for the period March 18 to September 2, the division has recorded 27 murders and 22 shootings…when compared to the equivalent period of time, prior to the state of emergency,” he noted.
“82 murders and 72 shootings were recorded over a period of 168 days prior to the state of emergency, so that would be from the first of January 2018 to the calling of the state of emergency.”
The Prime Minister said the request for a further extension was based on the recommendation of the security forces.
“This is deemed to be necessary to satisfy the short- to medium-term objectives of the special measure. Importantly, it will reinforce the pillars of transformation that will be seen as part of the long-term results of these actions,” he noted.
He said the security forces are moving to transform their operations to a more “investigation-based strategy”.
“We are gathering greater intelligence; we are building greater networks of cooperation in the communities and, ultimately, it is this better policing that will lead to the sustainable reduction in crime,” Holness noted.
The Prime Minister assured that the state of emergency is not a long-term solution.
“I know that we cannot rely on this forever. There comes a time when the expenditure to have an elevated level of police presence yields little result. What we don’t want, however, is for the criminals to ever get in their minds that the Government will not use extraordinary powers to address the threat that they pose,” he said.
Meanwhile, Holness indicated that the security forces are amenable to making changes to the hours of operation for businesses in the area.
He informed that Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang, will provide an update in this regard.