The parishes of St. Catherine and Clarendon have been placed under a State of Public Emergency.
The announcement was made today (September 5) by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
According to Prime Minister Holness, the SOPE was declared based on empirical statistics and intelligence gathered.
Since the start of 2019, the Clarendon division has recorded the second-highest number of murders at 100.
The St. Catherine South division has seen an increase in murders of 50% over last year, currently recording 91 murders since the beginning of the year. While the St. Catherine North Division has had 66 murders so far this year.
Prime Minister Holness declared that the Government is not using the State of Emergency as a substitute for regular policing.
“The Government is not using the State of Emergency as a substitute for regular policing. What the State of Emergency does, is to provide a respite in the number of crimes in particular murders that are taking place, it helps to expand the number of law enforcement personnel that we have on the ground. It helps to restrict the free movement of the criminal enterprise and then, that gives regular policing an increased ability to do their work,” stated Prime Minister Holness.
In that regard, the Prime Minister further stated that the SOPE has been working. He pointed to the fact that there has been an increase in the number of persons arrested, tried in Court and convicted of crimes.
“Within the spaces that we have had the State of Public Emergency and even outside of those spaces we have been able to interdict, bring before the court, prosecute and have successful convictions. in addition, it has given greater capacity to regular law enforcement to do regular law enforcement so that there is greater community policing. I want you to take a look if you get a chance, of what is happening in Salt Spring, they are doing their search and recovery of firearms, they are doing public order operations on the streets of Montego Bay. So, it is not a substitute, it helps,” said Prime Minister Holness.
And Prime Minister Holness said the Government has a five-year plan to reduce the murder rate in Jamaica to bring it as close as possible to the regional average which is 16 per hundred thousand. He said the Government is also committed to dealing with the triple threat of dons, guns and gangs.
“We can do it, we have a five year strategic plan to do it, we are one year already into that five year plan and we have moved our homicide rate per hundred thousand from 61 per hundred thousand to last year we were at 47 per hundred thousand. We are just about there now but the objective is to further bring that down, and it is an objective that all Jamaicans should rally around. All Jamaicans should support that because the life that is saved could very well be your own,” said Prime Minister Holness.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Holness asserted that the Government is using all the resource available to ensure the lives of Jamaican citizens are protected.
Members of the public are encouraged to report gang and other criminal activities to the security forces.
Persons can call the JDF Tip Line, at 876-837-8888.
Meanwhile, the boundaries of the State of Emergency in the parishes of Clarendon and St Catherine are:
East- The eastern boundary starts at the easternmost point of St Catherine, at the coastal intersection of the parish borders of St Catherine and St Andrew. The eastern boundary then extends in a north-north-westerly direction along the shared parish borders of St Catherine and St Andrew, then along the shared borders of St Catherine and St Mary.
North- The northern boundary extends in a westerly direction along the borders shared by St Catherine with St Mary and St Ann, and by Clarendon with St Ann, extending to the point of intersection of borders of Clarendon, St Ann, Manchester, and Trelawny.
West- The western boundary extends in a south-easterly direction along the shared parish border of Clarendon and Manchester to the coast.
South- The southern boundary extends along the entire coastal boundaries of Clarendon and St Catherine, back to the southernmost point of the shared border of St Catherine and St Andrew.