A State of Public Emergency has been declared in the St. Catherine North Police Division. The enhanced security measures took effect today Sunday March 18, 2018.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the announcement this morning (Sunday March 18) during a media briefing at Jamaica House.
The measures will last for an initial 14 days.
The State of Emergency comes against the background of increasing criminal activity including murders and extortion in the police division in particular the Spanish Town area.
“The security forces have advised me, as Prime Minister, in writing that a high level of criminal activity continues and threatens public order and the rule of law. This threat is extensive. The Governor General signed the proclamation under the Emergency Powers Act to bring into effect these enhanced security measures. The proclamation has also been gazetted,” said Prime Minister Holness.
Police statistics show that the St. Catherine North division has recorded the highest number of homicides this year with 48 persons being killed since January 1 to March 18. Last year 136 persons were killed in the division.
Prime Minister Holness says as a result of the enhanced security measures, the joint forces will have extraordinary powers and some rights of citizens will be curtailed.
“This does not mean that the use of these extraordinary powers can be arbitrary or are beyond review. The security forces are expected and have been directed to treat citizens with respect and to protect the dignity and safety of all Jamaicans,” added the Prime Minister.
In addition, the security forces will have the power to search, curtail operating hours of business, access to places and to detain persons without a warrant. In addition all persons using roads leading in and out of the police division will be subject to search. Persons will also be stopped at checkpoints.
The Emergency Powers Tribunal is to be named shortly.
In the meantime Prime Minister Holness is to address Parliament on the matter.
The special hotline set up for persons to give information remains open.
The number is 837-8888.